Mediation Services provides an array of Restorative Practices services for area schools. Our lead staff member is our Restorative Practices Coordinator and Trainer Renae Van Ast. With her background with a Masters Degree in Social Work, she gears trainings and guidance for area school personnel to benefit the students and the teachers who work with them.
Mediation Services offers Restorative Practices trainings for area school personnel, coaching for implementation of Restorative Justice programs within area schools, and provides Restorative Practices Facilitators within schools at their request. Watch the video that Allegan Public Schools did about our Restorative Practices program at the Alternative High School: https://alleganps.org/2018/06/12/restorative-justice-is-making-a-difference/
Mediation Services provides special education mediations for eligible children in conjunction with the Special Education Mediation Services SEMS. The Special Education Mediation Services SEMS, mikids1st.org, exists to ensure that the special educational needs of entitled children are met. Special education mediations are offered for free to both participant parents and school districts.
These mediations help parents, educators, and service providers develop productive relationships to resolve issues related to early intervention and special education. The mediated issues may involve child evaluations, eligibility, educational programs, placement, disciplinary issues, procedural safeguards, and any other matter that interferes with the successful delivery of a child’s special education program. Parents or school districts may request these mediations either by directly contacting Mediation Services or Special Education Mediation Services SEMS.
Peer mediation training teaches students to become mediators within their schools and to assist other students when conflict occurs. Peer mediators learn how to be neutral facilitators of conversations and to help fellow students resolve their disputes in a positive manner. In peer mediation training, students learn methods for resolving conflicts in effective, safe, and respective ways.
Under supervision, student mediators lead mediations. The student mediators assist their peers in discussing conflicts and collaborating to write and endorse agreements for changes in behaviors, which are then monitored for compliance and efficacy, with the goal of preventing future related conflicts.
School Attendance (Truancy and Expulsion Prevention)
When a school district assesses that a particular student has an inordinately high level of absences, mediation offers an option to address these concerns in a collaborative manner. Families and school district staff can meet in mediation to determine the issues that have negatively impacted the student’s school attendance.
In the private mediation session, the neutral mediators can facilitate an open, information gathering conversation, which is directed to understanding the causes of the absences and then finding options to remedy those factors. The mediators assist the participants in the development of a plan to ensure improved attendance. The students can then begin to receive the educational structure needed to achieve academic success.
Bullying prevention mediation programs are designed to give school personnel the necessary tools to prevent and eliminate bullying behaviors within their schools. The program teaches all students about the roles involved in bullying situations and how to safely intervene to assist students who are being bullied.
The program goals are to reduce any existing bullying behaviors within the schools, prevent the development of new bullying situations, create enhanced and improved peer relations within schools, and thereby make schools safer and more positive places for all students to grow and learn.
Such prevention programs have been shown through research to substantially reduce bullying among children, to reduce delinquent behaviors and truancy, and to significantly increase standardized test scores in English, Math, Science, and History.