California Special Education Law

Advocacy Resources, Hearing & Appeal Decisions, Statistics and More for Parents

Your Special Needs Child's Legal Rights

Mediations and Due Process Hearings

What Is a Mediation?

A mediation is a voluntary, confidential and informal meeting at which the parties meet with an experienced, impartial mediator to attempt to resolve the dispute in a non-adversarial atmosphere. The mediator does not provide advocacy or legal advice to either side, but facilitates communication between the parties. The participation of the neutral mediator increases the possibility that the parties will reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.

Parents may attend mediation with a special education lawyer for ongoing legal advice and support.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

The vast majority of disputes are resolved through mediation. Mediation is the preferred method of resolving disputes for a number of reasons, including the following:

The Continuing Relationship Between Parties

Mediation helps to maintain a cooperative relationship between parents and school districts because the dispute is settled by mutual agreement.


Mediation allows a greater level of flexibility in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement/written agreement. By contrast, when a dispute goes to hearing, the hearing officer makes the final decision, which may not satisfy either party.

Immediate Implementation

If an agreement is reached in mediation, the resolution is written in the form of an agreement that can be immediately implemented. Hearing decisions take much longer.

Less Costly

Mediation is less costly in terms of money, time and personal stress.