The Stakeholders’ Council in Wisconsin provides an example of a strategy designed to transform a culture of conflict (fragmentation and distrust) into a culture of collaboration. Wisconsin had a high number of due process hearings with little emphasis on early resolution of conflict. In response, a Stakeholders’ Council was established and included school district representatives, parents, parent advocates, and attorneys. The council defined a common vision for all parties and established an annual training program with participation by a broad spectrum of the community. Regular training encourages understanding of the perspectives of all participants and alters the adversarial mindset that can characterize relationships among diverse stakeholders in the special education system.
System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 

System Design/Management

After establishing the Council, the Council drafted legislation that provided Wisconsin a mediation system in anticipation of and consistent with the reauthorization of IDEA. The draft legislation addressed unique Wisconsin stakeholder concerns, was fiscally sound and had widespread support. The Council disseminated draft legislation and meeting minutes to additional stakeholders to ensure the opportunity for widespread comments from all interested parties. The Council also submitted recommendations and options for future activities to sensure successful implementation of the Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System.



The meetings were co-faciliated by representatives of the three partner organizations. Stakeholders who participated in the design of the system included representatives of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin Council for Exceptional Children, Autism Society of Wisconsin,, Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy, Parent Education Project, Wisconsin Department of Health and Families Support, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, attorneys representing school districts and families, representatives of the state legislature and governor's office and representatives of other advocacy organizations.

Public Awareness & Outreach Activities: 

Availability/Accessing Services

Three meetings each year, participants include representatives from parent advocacy groups, school districts, school board, teacher union, special edcuation director association, and CESAs.


Members were distributed documents to assist in the design of Wisconsin's special education mediation system and accompanying legislation including the planning grant objectives as well as reports on special education mediation in other states.


Program Contact

Marge Resan
Department of Public Instruction