School Mediation

 

School Mediation

Our neutral and highly skilled mediators can assist schools in resolving conflicts. We currently have a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Monroe County Community School Corporation that enables CJAM mediators to work with students, families, and school personnel to resolve school-related issues. These services are provided at no charge to the schools or to the individual participants.

Q & A

Q: What is mediation?
A: Mediation is a process through which people who are experiencing issues are able to communicate with each other with the help of impartial mediators. Its aim is to help students, their families, and schools prevent or resolve problems in ways that meet the needs of all. Mediation allows participating parties to improve communication, take responsibility for the actions done, repair harm, and/or develop agreements focused on resolving current and possible future issues.

Q: For which kinds of situations might mediation be appropriate?
A: The following are examples situations that may be effectively handled through mediation:
• Ongoing trouble between two students or groups of students.
• Disciplinary situations, including those involving potential suspension and expulsion.
• Bullying or juvenile aggression situations, including harassment or intimidation.
• Communication difficulties or lack of communication between family and school.
• Tardiness and truancy issues.
• Family issues at home that affect a child’s behavior at school.
• After a suspension or expulsion, mediation can be used to ease the student’s transition back into school, both by helping that student and by helping others who may have concerns related to that student’s return.

Q: Why should we participate?
A: You have the opportunity to talk about all the concerns surrounding the issue, explore possible solutions, and come up with a plan of action. The mediators will work with you to find solutions that are satisfactory to all participants.
Mediators work to ensure that all participants in mediation have a safe environment in which they can freely communicate their perspectives and their interests. The discussions in mediation are kept confidential, and good faith participation by all individuals is central to mediation processes. All solutions written into an agreement must be mutually agreed upon by all present parties. Within mediation, reaching agreement is always voluntary.

Q: What happens if a student does not participate?
A: Mediation is a choice and it is voluntary. A parent/guardian must give consent for a student to participate. If a student is referred to mediation as an alternative to other disciplinary action, the school may inform the student and their parent/guardian of other options available to them if they decide not to participate in mediation.

Q: How does the process work?
A: After receiving a referral, mediators first have separate meetings with each person involved in order to gather information, make sure participation is voluntary and informed, and to prepare for future meetings and mediation sessions. In mediation sessions, participants are brought together, and the mediators serve as impartial facilitators of the process. Mediators help to promote effective communication and decision-making between everyone present.
Many school mediations result in a written agreement that addresses the problem that brought people to mediation and includes future actions that will prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Q: Will the school know everything that is discussed?
A: The participants determine what information will be shared with the school. Most often, participants want members of the school administration or other school staff to know the agreement made so that the school can support the parties in appropriate ways.

Q: What happens if the school accepts the plan but then the student does not follow through?
A: This issue is typically discussed with the participants in the mediation session, and plans for how to address such noncompliance or lack of follow-through are often included in the written agreement. Mediation agreements are often written with the assumption that the participating parties will take responsibility for the agreement that they came up with during the mediation session. Agreements that are made “in good faith” are generally followed.

Q: Where and when would the mediation take place?
A: Most often, CJAM mediators will meet with parties on-site at the school, either during the school day or after school. The meeting times are flexible and arranged to meet the participants’ schedules.
If a different site is preferred, parties may meet at CJAM’s offices at 205 S. Walnut St. in downtown Bloomington. CJAM is located less than a block from the Bloomington Transit downtown bus terminal and offers free parking for visitors.

School administrators, students, or parents may send referrals to cjam@cjamcenter.org

For more information, please call CJAM at (812) 336-8677

The Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) and Community Justice and Mediation Center (CJAM) share the view that mediation may often be useful for prevention or amelioration of student problems, including ones that might be the subject of disciplinary actions. Referrals for mediation may be appropriate in situations of conflict between students, preparing for re-entry after a suspension or expulsion that involved a conflict between students, or to resolve conflict between parents and school personnel. The aim of mediation will be to develop an agreement between the participating parties that will meet the needs of the students, their families, and the school. Mediation gives the participants an opportunity to take responsibility for the actions done, repair harm, improve communication, and resolve issues themselves.