Alternative Dispute Resolution

Special education services can be very helpful to students with disabilities. When problems or misunderstandings arise about ways to make the special education process work for your child, you have many options available to help address your concerns.

Where Should You Start?

Prepare Yourself
The process is easier if you do some preparation ahead of time.

  • Organize your child’s documents (IEP/IFSP, evaluation report, progress reports, etc.)
  • Define the problem(s) as you see them.
  • Prioritize your issues.
  • Think about practical solutions. 

Talk to an Advocate
Advocates are trained in special education processes. They can help families solve problems and understand what to expect in each process.

Talk to Your District
Some problems can be quickly resolved at the school your child attends.

  • Talk to your district’s special education director about your concerns.
  • Request a team meeting to talk about your concerns and develop ideas.
  • If you disagree with a proposed IEP, you can request a conciliation conference with district personnel to discuss concerns about your child’s education program.

What if You Still Have Concerns?

Talk to the Minnesota Department of Education
If problems cannot be resolved, other options are available through the Minnesota Department of Education’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Services, 651-582-8222.

  • Mediation - An impartial mediator works to keep the entire IEP, IFSP, or multi-agency team focused on your child’s needs, to improve trust and team communication, and to assist the team in producing an IEP that everyone agrees upon.
  • Facilitated team meetings - An impartial facilitator leads an IEP, IFSP, or multi-agency team meeting to promote effective communication and assist a team in developing an individualized education program.
  • Which ADR Process Best Fits Your Child's Situation?

How Long Does the Process Take?

Once MDE receives a completed request form, each process takes approximately three weeks to complete.
The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) provides a series of videos designed to support effective collaboration between parents, schools, and early childhood programs. View CADRE’s Working Together web page to see the videos.

Facilitated Team Meetings


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