CADRE's major emphasis is on encouraging the use of mediation, facilitation, and other collaborative processes as strategies for resolving disagreements between families and schools about children's educational programs and support services. CADRE supports families, educators, administrators, attorneys and advocates to benefit from the full continuum of dispute resolution options that can prevent and resolve conflict and ultimately lead to informed partnerships that focus on results for children and youth.

CADRE is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education to serve as the National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education. CADRE's Project Officer is Carmen Sánchez. CADRE delivers its array of technical assistance and dissemination activities through the expertise of an outstanding group of nationally recognized staff, consultants and advisors. In addition, the Center has robust partnerships that leverage the resources of organizational and governmental partners, including the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the national Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA & D) Network, to ensure the broadest possible access to promising dispute resolution practices. CADRE maintains valuable partnerships with parents, educators, program administrators, practitioners and other key stakeholders who both influence the operation of the Center as well as collaborate in the development of products and services.  

CADRE utilizes an Advisory Board composed of individuals representing national leadership in dispute resolution and special education who share a commitment to promoting positive partnerships between families, schools and early intervention programs, as well as adding to the Center’s diversity and wealth of perspectives.

Additionally, CADRE uses an external evaluator, Courtney Brown, Ph.D., who through ongoing formal and informal data collection methods assesses the quality, usefulness and relevance of CADRE's products and services. In combination with CADRE's internal evaluation activities, Dr. Brown's analyses provide valuable information to the US Department of Education on CADRE's accomplishments and inform the Center's continuous quality improvement efforts.


Initially funded in 1998, CADRE serves as the National Center on Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education on behalf of the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. CADRE works to increase the nation’s capacity to prevent and resolve special education and early intervention disputes by fostering productive home/school/provider partnerships and the use of collaborative processes to improve outcomes for children and youth with disabilities. CADRE assists states with implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) procedural safeguards provisions and the development of high-performing dispute resolution systems through the identification and dissemination of exemplary practices related to program design, implementation, evaluation and improvement.

Who We Serve

As a member of OSEP’s national TA & D network, CADRE is tasked with delivering high quality technical assistance, informational support and other services primarily to state education agencies (Part B), early intervention lead agencies (Part C), and federally-funded parent centers. CADRE also offers TA to local education agencies, early intervention providers, dispute resolution practitioners, families, and other stakeholders. 


We believe family members and educators are best served when they have a range of dispute resolution options available within a system designed by strong stakeholder involvement. CADRE values and encourages the use of mediation, facilitation and other collaborative processes as strategies for resolving disagreements between parents and schools about children's educational programs and support services.


The impact of CADRE’s technical assistance activities and services are intended to result in:

  • Improved state dispute resolution system performance and compliance
  • Increased use of early, collaborative resolution processes
  • Constructive relationships between parents, schools and service providers
  • Increased stakeholder and family engagement
  • Decreased use of expensive, adversarial dispute resolution procedures