(a)General. Each State shall ensure that procedures are established and implemented to allow parties to disputes involving any matter described in § 303.403(a) to resolve the disputes through a mediation process which, at a minimum, must be available whenever a hearing is requested under § 303.420. The lead agency may either use the mediation system established under Part B of the Act or establish its own system.
(b)Requirements. The procedures must meet the following requirements:
(1) The procedures must ensure that the mediation process—
(i) Is voluntary on the part of the parties;
(ii) Is not used to deny or delay a parent's right to a due process hearing under § 303.420, or to deny any other rights afforded under Part C of the Act; and
(iii) Is conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques.
(2) The State shall maintain a list of individuals who are qualified mediators and knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services.
(3) The State shall bear the cost of the mediation process, including the costs of meetings described in paragraph (c) of this section.
(4) Each session in the mediation process must be scheduled in a timely manner and must be held in a location that is convenient to the parties to the dispute.
(5) An agreement reached by the parties to the dispute in the mediation process must be set forth in a written mediation agreement.
(6) Discussions that occur during the mediation process must be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearings or civil proceedings, and the parties to the mediation process may be required to sign a confidentiality pledge prior to the commencement of the process.
(c)Meeting to encourage mediation. A State may establish procedures to require parents who elect not to use the mediation process to meet, at a time and location convenient to the parents, with a disinterested party—
(1) Who is under contract with a parent training and information center or community parent resource center in the State established under sections 682 or 683 of the Act, or an appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity; and
(2) Who would explain the benefits of the mediation process and encourage the parents to use the process.