Alexa Posny Interview - Part XI

My recent interview with Dr. Alexa Posny, the new Assistant Secretary of Education for OSERS (the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services) covered a lot of ground. This is the last substantive post in a series concerning the interview over the last few weeks. At the suggestion of a reader, I will add an index of the topics covered to make reviews easier. "JG" indicates that I am speaking. "AP" indicates that Secretary Posny is speaking.

In this post, Dr. Posny discusses the new resolution session and the possibility of arbitration as a special education dispute resolution mechanism:

JG: So, I find that to be interesting. The dispute resolution systems, the resolution session is a new thing that came in just in 2004. Do you have any feeling as to how that's working or - -

AP: Oh, I've heard nothing but great things about it. Okay, I've heard for both sides, on the school side, as well as with the parent side, because it's a way to at least come together to have a conversation. And so, I've heard that people really - - what's interesting is that some states already had systems like that set up. So, you may not hear as much from them because it was already in place, but for those that didn't, I believe it's been a real boon and I believe we've seen fewer due process hearings as a result.

JG: Yeah, I think that's true. It's definitely kept down the number of due processing hearings and I think for most of the time, it's the right reason. I had concerns, originally, about confidentiality and about the no lawyer sort of emphasis of it, but again, that's I think just my bias coming out as a lawyer, but I think that sometimes they're there for good reasons and I was afraid that it was going to abused in that way, but I have not heard from around the country - -

AP: I haven't either.

JG: - - and it's interesting because I really thought that was - - you know, that was another one of my bad predictions - - my crystal ball is often a little foggy, you know.

AP: Well, but sometimes we don't know and I think sometimes when people say, well, why are you doing that? And it's because there's a part of me saying, we don't necessarily know all the time, but we can at least try. If it doesn't work, well, we'll fix it. I mean, but let's try some of these things and see if we really can get it to work.

JG: Arbitration was in the last reauthorization - -

AP: Yes.

JG: - - in the House bill and then, it didn't make it through the last conference. Do you think arbitration is a good model? I have some thoughts about it.

AP: I don't know. Well, I have some biases about it. My brother-in-law is into that kind of stuff (laughing) and there's a part of me saying, well, does it really work? I don't know. I really don't know.

JG: Alright because it's interesting.

AP: I probably don't know enough about it to be able to weigh in on that and I don't know. I'm one of these and I know I am the eternal optimist, but I really think that we just really need to work together to do this, but I don’t think we need a third party to necessarily come in and say, you'll do this and you'll do that. I don't know. It's too prescriptive.

JG: Okay.

AP: That's my personal opinion.

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