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Special Education

For schools and parents who have conflicts or concerns related to the educational program of a child with disabilities.

Schools or parents can request mediation for any issue that impacts the child’s access to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. A neutral, trained mediator will assure that all voices are heard, mediate any conflict that may arise in the discussion, and keep the meeting focused on the best interests of the child. There are many reasons why schools or parents request facilitation or mediation. Examples of reasons to use mediation in special education:

- The IEP may not be working as envisioned or may not be fully implemented as written;
- The parties may wish to discuss a different placement for the child;
- The parents or the school are considering filing a formal state complaint or due process complaint but would like to attempt mediation first;
- Parents or schools are having difficult communications that have led to distrust or anger;
- To assist parents and schools in understanding their rights or obligations under IDEA;
- When a significant change has occurred for the child that could impact the current IEP;
- Significant stress is present due to the child’s behavior.

Under the Federal IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) statute, mediation is free to both schools and parents who are experiencing conflict or concerns related to the educational program of a child with disabilities. Michigan’s Department of Education contracts with the Michigan Special Education Program (MSEMP) in Lansing to oversee the statewide mediation program. In turn, MSEMP contracts with the 18 community dispute resolution centers to provide trained, local mediators for schools and parents. CMS is one of the 18 Centers. A child must formally be assessed by the school district to determine eligibility for special education. If the child is eligible for special education services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is created with the goal of optimizing the student’s academic and social growth based on their assessment data and their specific disability.

Parents or schools can learn more about the benefits of special education mediation or request a mediation by calling or emailing either MSEMP or Citizens Mediation Service.

Additional information and contacts:
State of Michigan's Policy for the Emergency Use of Seclusion and Restraints.

Michigan Special Education Program
Call 833-KIDS1ST
(833-543-7178)
info@msemp.org or Request Services Online

Citizens Mediation Service
Phone: 269-982-7898
Email Sarah with questions.

Fee Schedule:
This is a FREE service for both the school and the parents

Fee Waivers:
The following individuals are eligible for full fee waivers for mediation services: 1) those who receive public assistance for housing, food stamps, or Medicaid; 2) those whose only source of income is Veteran’s Benefits or Social Security; 3) those whose income is less than 125% of federal poverty guidelines. Proof of income is required for fee waivers. For all others, the following fee schedule applies. Payment plans are available for up to three months.

Other Fee Information:
- The CMS Board of Directors reserves the right to change fees at any time.
- Individuals who fall below the minimum income guidelines will have all fees waived. Proof of income is required. For all others, payment in full expected at the time of mediation. Payment plans for up to three months are available, if needed.
- The Executive Director reserves the right to adjust fees under special circumstances. Any such change will be documented in the CMS data base as well as the case file.

Effective March 20, 2018