CHANGES TO SPECIAL EDUCATION MEDIATIONS, PREHEARING CONFERENCES (PHCs) AND HEARINGS
Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, mediations will be held exclusively by telephone or video conference. Except for expedited PHCs and hearings, all PHCs and hearings scheduled through April 17, 2020, are continued for good cause. See below for more information.
PHC'S AND HEARINGS SCHEDULED THROUGH 4/17/2020 ARE CONTINUED ON OAH'S ORDER FOR GOOD CAUSE
Effective March 18, 2020, all non-expedited special education pre-hearing conferences and hearings scheduled through April 17, 2020, are CONTINUED for good cause, amid novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, concerns. Pre-hearing conferences and hearings for expedited cases will go forward as scheduled, unless otherwise ordered.
Notices with rescheduled dates will be sent to the parties and parties may check their email, US mail, and the Office of Administrative Hearings online calendar for the new dates. Parties may not receive the notice with the new dates immediately.
There is no need to send OAH a continuance request for any pre-hearing conference or hearing that falls between March 18, 2020, and April 17, 2020.
This order may be modified or extended at a later date. Please continue to check the OAH website at https://www.dgs.ca.gov/OAH/Case-Types/Special-Education/Resources/SE-Coronavirus-Update/#@ViewBag.JumpTo for the most up to date information.
A copy of OAH's order regarding PHCs and hearings may be found here.
BEGINNING MONDAY 3/23/2020 AND CONTINUING THROUGH APRIL 30, 2020, MEDIATIONS WILL BE HELD EXCLUSIVELY BY TELEPHONE OR VIDEO CONFERENCE AND NEW TIMES.
All special education mediations scheduled with the Office of Administrative Hearings through April 30, 2020, will now occur via telephone or video. Mediations that were previously scheduled for 1:30 p.m. will now begin at 1:00 p.m. Please review the outline of this process for participation in the telephone or video mediations.
A copy of OAH's Order regarding mediations may be found here.
Please review this outline of the process to participate in the telephone or video mediation
1. Filing party to provide the mediator at the mediation a detailed, opening settlement proposal.
At the time of the mediation, the filing party shall provide the mediator with a detailed, opening settlement proposal. The proposal should contain each element of the filing party's proposed settlement, including the cost, proposed vendors or placement locations, if possible, and any other details necessary to start a meaningful settlement discussion.
The filing party may include questions, if the answers are needed before a proposal can be made. The mediator will not share the settlement proposal with the other side(s) until discussing it with the filing party first.
Please do NOT this settlement proposal with OAH.
The opening settlement proposal, and the questions, may be made to the mediator orally.
2. The mediation will start with a pre-session.
The mediation starts with a pre-session where technology is tested to make sure it is working properly.
During this pre-session confidentiality agreements about settlement offers and counter offers will be discussed and agreements reached before the mediation starts.
All parties must be present for those discussions to proceed.
3. Please provide OAH Staff with any updated or changed email addresses and direct telephone numbers for the attorney and all clients participating in the mediation, no later than 24 hours prior to the scheduled mediation.
You may do this by calling OAH at 916-263-0880 or by sending something in writing using the Secure e-File Transfer (SFT) system. You may not submit this information through email.
4. The Office of Administrative Hearings is using the Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) software to host mediations in the coming weeks. MS Teams can be used for both video and telephonic conferencing. You will NOT have to purchase any software to participate.
If you have not previously used the MS Teams platform and you wish to familiarize yourself with the technology, there are informative videos available like the one at this link from Microsoft: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/join-a-teams-meeting-078e9868-f1aa-4414-8bb9-ee88e9236ee4
If Joining by Computer:
If joining the meeting by computer, the mediator will schedule a meeting, and the participants will receive an invitation via email.
The meeting invitations will be:
- "Mediation Meeting" - this will be the "joint room" where all parties and the mediator will be able to meet together
- "Caucus Meeting" - these will be the private meeting "rooms" for parties and their representatives to meet. The mediator may or may not be in the Caucus Rooms through the course of the mediation. Each party will receive an invite to their own private caucus meeting in addition to the Mediation Meeting. There may be instances when the Caucus Room invitations are not sent to the parties until all parties have joined the Mediation Meeting.
At the scheduled time for the mediation, click on “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting" for the Mediation Meeting. You will join the main mediation meeting first and the Mediator will work to ensure that all parties can then access and move between the Mediation Meeting and their own Caucus Meeting.
If you have not downloaded the MS Teams application in the past, a new screen will open in your browser inviting you to do so. Once the software has been downloaded you will click on the download item to open the software. This will automatically connect you to the meeting. Enter your first and last name where indicated. You will see a message informing you that you will be allowed to enter the meeting shortly. The mediator will open the meeting to you.
Separate Meetings, or "Caucus," for Each Side Will be Available:
A similar process will be used to open a separate Caucus Meeting for each side. Each mediation participant will be required to accept two meeting invitations for each mediation. The Mediator will be using the computer software to move from the joint meeting to individual discussions in the separate caucus meetings.
Joining the Meeting by Telephone Only:
If joining the meeting by telephone only, your case manager will be contacting you to provide the call-in numbers and the Conference ID numbers you will need for your mediation. You will receive information for the joint Mediation Meeting as well as for any private Caucus Meeting to be used.
At the scheduled time for the mediation, you will call in to the Mediation Meeting first. Upon calling the number, you will hear a welcome message and be instructed to enter the Conference ID number, followed by the pound (#) sign. You will then be prompted to record your name, then press pouContinnd again. Your recorded name will be played when you join the meeting to alert others that you have joined.
The mediator will work with the parties to determine the most efficient means of connecting with each side individually and for joint discussions.
5. The Same Confidentiality Rules Apply to Telephonic or Video Conference Mediations that Apply to In-Person Mediations.
The same confidentiality rules will apply to telephonic or video conference mediations that apply to in-person mediations.
- There will be no video or audio recording of any mediation processes under any circumstances.
- The parties may not copy documents by any means, including by cell phone photograph, without the express permission of all parties to the mediation.
The mediator will go over the rules of confidentiality prior to the beginning of the mediated discussions.
6. OAH will continue to provide interpreters if requested by the parties.
7. Meeting Invitations are Only to Be Used to Connect Parties to the Mediation At the Scheduled Time.
The meeting invitations are intended for the sole purpose of connecting parties to the mediation at the scheduled time. Do not reply to any invitation emails, simply use the links to join the meetings. If you need to communicate any information regarding your case, please contact your case manager, including if you cannot participate in the mediation.
8. Additional Parties
If you feel that additional parties or persons should be involved in the mediation, please contact your case manager with that information so that it may be provided to the Mediator when setting up the mediation. The meeting invitations should NOT be forwarded to other parties unless instructed to do so.
7. Please do NOT call OAH Before Your Scheduled Mediation Time with Questions.