A whistle stop around the world of mediation again this week.
First to Aspen where the Board of Education are to pay for a mediator to work with the school district operators and parents given the harsh critique leveled by some concerned parents regarding the leadership roles.
After several hours of evidence regarding the school districts culture on hiring and policy making given in a packed out boardroom the chair of the board Sheila Wills said "I've heard some teachers tell me it's a wonderful, open, collaborative place to work…And I know we've had other people represent other teachers saying something different. So, I think we need to take a step back....We need to take the emotion out of it and look at it in a logical, coherent way. And I think we need to bring in an expert. I think we need to have someone who understands educational/organizational climate and structure."
The role teachers play has not been particularly criticized as most of the comments were on the leadership style and practices brought in by Superintendent John Maloy and his executive team which has led to undermining of teachers and a culture of fear to speak out lest their complaints and comments be used in an unprofessional manner against them.
The committee was concerned that the Aspen Parents Action group had failed to come up with any solutions and had launched fairly personal attacks against Maloy, hence the need for an independent third party mediator to assist the parties in reaching some form of resolution.
Mediators, like us at Northwest Mediation, are always looking for common ground and ways forward, solution based thinking is where we thrive but parties also have to feel that their opinions have been listened to before we can move forward to the resolution process. The timing of the committee’s decision comes in line with the review of Maloy’s performance during his current three year rolling contract, during which time he has also hired his daughter, Megan, as school district psychologist.
Other board members felt the proposal to bring in external mediator assistance was wise, member Susan Marolt said "I think that's a good idea…I think it's important for us as a community to determine what kind of climate and culture we actually want before we hire someone to tell us how to do that. … I think that's important for us to look at as a board and how we hear from our community and how we would like that to happen and how our community would like that to happen."
Megan Maloy commented that the parents’ group “have said they want collaboration, yet they have already made demands and used strong-arm tactics and have offered no solution other than firing the superintendent"
Mr Maloy said any allegation of a culture of fear and suspicion troubled him "In that vein, I'm working with the Aspen Education Association (which represents faculty and staff) to find out what their members are feeling."
Dwayne Romero who will take over the chair in November commented that leadership set the tone for the schools and was a separate issue to the daily routine work "There is a fundamental difference between management and administration, and leadership…Let me say that again: There is a fundamental difference between understanding how to achieve performance, how to achieve accomplishment, how to abide by regulations, how to stay on task, how to stay on schedule. Those are administrative and managerial duties....There's a whole different realm being able to create a trusting environment, setting a tone where there's confidence and there's mutual respect, where there's openness and humility."
Objectives of dealing with everyone with mutual respect and openness are at the heart of a mediation.
One of the core aspects of mediation is that it remains voluntary but more often than not we are now seeing courts encourage, cajole and ultimately order parties to mediation.
Mediation should remain a voluntary process in that the parties are at liberty to walk away, what consequences they may face when they have been ordered to attend may well be one of the considerations discussed in caucus meetings.
Attendance becomes obligatory whilst participation remains voluntary.
The IPOPHL says their reasoning is that mediation will help “in a bid to achieve a quicker, more cost-effective, more amicable means of resolving IP disputes”.
The order comes into force on 5/10/18, and Josephine Santiago the director general of IPOPHL said “Right now the yearly average of cases that accept mediation is 40 to 45% of IP disputes. If they don’t accept mediation, they return to litigation and that process is quite long not to mention expensive…In mediation, the resolution is arrived at by the parties themselves, so benefits can be mutually received. In litigation, a judge or a hearing officer hears the evidence and makes a decision to favor one or another, and only awards the winner. In mediation, they can make a compromise agreement with mutually beneficial terms. That’s the value here.”
We at Northwest Mediation can only hope that such forward thinking views are brought into the IP court’s in the UK given the lengthy and expensive court battles which such disputes normally involve.
Over to the states for two stories now. As part of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame a new mediation program is being launched to link emphasize the connection in mediation between research and practice by looking into the effectiveness of mediation and it’s teaching, training and policy.
Professor of the Practice of Mediation and mediation adviser to the UN Laurie Nathan who works within the university’s Keough School of Global Affairs is to lead the program.
Director of the Kroc Institute John M. Regan Jr., Asher Kaufman said “Laurie Nathan is a global leader in the practice of international mediation and at the same time is also a leading scholar on mediation and conflict prevention. He embodies the model of a reflective practitioner that we support at the Kroc Institute.”
Nathan has previously designed and run the UN’s High Level Mediation Course and said “In many cases of armed conflict, mediation is the difference between war and peace. It has become the primary peacemaking strategy in civil wars in particular…As one of the leading peace institutes in the world, the Kroc Institute has a rare combination of serious scholarly work and committed policy and practitioner engagement. This is exactly the right place to house the new mediation program.”
He continued “What we are offering students is not only theory and knowledge of the main scholarly debates, but also insight into the actual experience of mediation…Mediation usually happens behind closed doors, and it therefore cannot be observed directly by students and researchers. I am able to draw on my own experience, and that of other seasoned mediators, to give students a sense of what happens during mediated negotiations.”
If he wants to enlist any other teachers Northwest Mediation’s mediators stand ready to assist.
Last week we had hockey players heading to mediation this week its basketball.
Again in another example of court ordered mediation the NCAA and former basketball players from the University of Louisville are to attend mediation to try to resolve the players’ claims. The NCAA currently takes the view that the claims are barred from progressing as the former players have no locus standi.
The players, Gorgui Dieng, Luke Hancock, Tim Henderson, Michael Marra and Stephan Van Treese lost their titles and claim they were poorly portrayed following an escort scandal in 2013. They want their awards restoring, their records clearing and an acknowledgment that they did not pay for hookers and strippers.
Judge Olu Stevens of the Jefferson Circuit Court ordered the parties to mediation as soon as possible with New Albany mediator Peter Palmer.
As we have said mediation isn’t normally obligatory and one lawyer, Thomas Clay, commenting on the case added "The usual progression is that there will be discovery done so parties can get some idea of what evidence there is to support each other's claims…In this case, it's clear the NCAA doesn't think the players have a course of action against the NCAA in regards to taking the 2013 title away from the Cardinals. Judge Stevens is trying to save everybody going through the discovery process and trying to see if they can reach an early resolution."
The claims will head to a jury trial if not resolved by mediation, court decisions are always a gamble and never more so than when in front of a jury of the claimants’ peers, the parties would do well to be guided by Mr Palmer.
We’ve spoken before about mediation for problems with neighbours and as cities grow ever upwards the neighbour disputes and arguments with landlords will increase, in to Kuala Lumpur any such dispute by residents in high rise buildings will be directed to a mediation service (that’s potentially 1.2 million mediation clients).
Minister Khalid Samad of the Federal Territories said that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is the first local authority in the country to introduce the facility.
Everything from noise, smell, issues with shared facilities and boundary problems will be included in the services remit who will have 19 trained mediators ready to assist.
The minister said “Aggrieved parties can either visit the centre to air their grouses or come separately and the mediator will contact the other party to hear their side of the story...The mediator will then try to work out a compromise for both parties to settle the matter amicably”.
If successful the process will be rolled out to everyone in Kuala Lumpur whether they live in high rises or not.
Now the Northwest Mediation blog hasn’t been able to mention the Archers for some weeks now but while we wait for the chance to mention the story of everyday country folk we can report on a new National Mediation Service for agri-business and farming which could be utilized by the residents of Ambridge, if only Borchester would relocate to Ireland.
The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) and the IFA will partner with Mediators' Institute of Ireland (MII) to offer mediation for all disputes regarding agriculture, my colleague Sabine Walsh, head of the MII said the MII was delighted at the prospect which will allow direct access to mediators or via an IPAV member if so desired.
At Northwest Mediation we have experience of mediating farming disputes with families and businesses regarding the use of land, boundaries and also inheritance.
Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes or inheritance arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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