This report discusses findings of a study that investigated the resolution of disputes in the field of special education. Information was collected from ten states (Alabama, California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming) on their current dispute resolution systems and from two additional states (Arizona and Montana) on other procedures they have put in place that are known as early dispute resolution options. Findings in the areas of complaints, mediation, and due process indicate: (1) state education agencies directly administer state complaint procedures and usually begin by opening a file and contacting the special education administrator and the superintendent at the local education agency; (2) the ten states involved in the study vary considerably in the length of time they have provided mediation, do not have a strict set of prerequisites for mediator applicants, and only 8 of the 10 states make mediation services available anytime parties have a dispute; and (3) states use either a single-level or two-level structure system for due process hearings. The study also found that the main dispute resolution components (complaints, mediation, and due process) typically do not function as an integrated system. The need for an integrated data system is stressed.(ERIC)

National Association of State Directors of Special Education