A Case Study of the Implementation of the Resolution Session in Processing of Special Education Complaints in a Large Urban School District
AuthorSpoering, Sauntheri (Sandie)
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In 2004, United States President George W. Bush signed into law the amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law contained a last step to resolve complaints prior to a due process hearing: the resolution session. For decades parents sought resolution for their grievances about educating children with disabilities through the courts. In addition to being financially prohibitive, litigation did very little to strengthen school-family partnerships. The resolution session included in the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA was designed to provide a more effective means of resolving disputes. One large, urban school district in the western United States was recognized for rapid implementation of the resolution session. The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that supported this recognition. The descriptive case study focused on how the school district resolved complaints and disputes within the timeframe of 2002-2008, two years prior to the re-authorization of IDEA and the years following implementation. Three sources of data were analyzed: the records of due process complaints; policy and procedure manuals; and interviews with key administrators responsible for resolving special education complaints. Three disciplines that make up a learning organization were found to contribute to the rapid implementation of the resolution session: a shared vision of effectively solving special education problems through direct communication between school district personnel and parents; control over the design and implementation of the process; and team learning.