A variety of trainings and coaching activities for parents, mentors, advocates and educators have been developed and offered over the past ten years. The training topic areas include communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, dealing with difficult dynamics, effective IEP meeting strategies, and how to facilitate IEP meetings. These trainings are not offered on a continual basis but are available upon request. These services are accessed by Delaware parents and school and district personnel to resolve disputes over special-education services and placement. The objective of the combined components of the SPARC project is to address conflicts between home and school at the earliest possible stage.
System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 

System Design/Management:

The Special Education Partnership for the Amicable Resolution of Conflict (SPARC) mediation program was formally created in 1997 between the Delaware Department of Education and the Conflict Resolution Program at the University of Delaware's Institute for Public Administration. It has grown from focused solely on offering mediation to parties who file due process requests to a multi-pronged program that also offers non-due process mediation, IEP meeting facilitation and a variety of special-education trainings for parents, mentors, advocates, and educators. It is an expansive alternative dispute resolution resource dedicated to supporting government, organizations, agencies, and individuals by designing programs and services that meet their respective goals.

Practitioner Standards & Professional Development: 

Training/Professional Development:

The Conflict Resolution Program offers a two-day training for facilitated IEP meetings. During this two-day training, participants? will learn the role and responsibilities of a facilitator and how to:

  • Prepare for an IEP meeting.
  • Design a collaborative meeting agenda.
  • Facilitate a meeting process that encourages full participation and effective communication.
  • Build agreement and gain consensus.
  • Manage challenging meeting dynamics.



Public Awareness & Outreach Activities: 

Availability/Accessing Services:

Provided at a nominal fee and subidized by the Delaware Department of Education.


Training sessions are designed to be delivered in two-hour blocks but can be expanded and customized. Training sessions include:

  • Introduction to the Mediation Process
  • Facilitation 101
  • Your Conflict Management Styl      more/less
  • Where do These Parents Come From?
  • Resolving Difficult Dynamics and Conflict in IEPs
  • Are You Hearing Me?
  • Brainstormimng and Problem Solving
  • Decision-Making and Action Planning
  • A/V and the IEP

Program Contact

Kathy Murphy
Conflict Resolution Program, University of Delaware