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Straus-SELPA Trainings

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About the Collaboration

The Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law has partnered with Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Administrators of California to offer training on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practices for special education professionals across the state of California. In this innovative collaboration, the institute brings its world-class training and deep knowledge of conflict resolution processes and mediation techniques to SELPAs, Special Education Administrators with the Local Education Agency (LEA), and other education-related professionals to support their capacity to resolve and prevent disputes around special education. Read More about this innovative partnership.


Upcoming Training

Mediating the Litigated Case - SELPA Edition (5-Day)

The MLC – Special Education Edition is a sophisticated 40-hour training program, designed specifically for SELPAs and LEA Special Education Administrators and other education-related professionals.

This course offers participants a unique opportunity to learn about the mediation process in a format geared specifically toward special education cases. Taught by experienced lawyers and mediators, course participants will learn the essential skills required to effectively negotiate in challenging situations and mediate disputes.

The program will focus on the various stages of the process, identifying and working with different negotiation styles, cross-cultural communication, and facilitating problem-solving regardless of whether the case involves disputes regarding placements, services, assessments, IEP process, and more.

In addition to providing mediation skills training, the program will focus on issues specific to the adversarial setting including managing attorney advocates, the parameters of confidentiality, and concerns about discovery. It will also focus on issues of particular concern to school-based mediators including maintaining the parent and school relationship, the proscription against dual representation, providing legal advice, conflicts of interest, drafting mediation agreements, and other ethical dilemmas.

Please note: If you have previously taken the STAR Mediation training offered in our previous Professional Skills Program held in person at Pepperdine University, some of the training material may be overlapping. However, by completing the 5-Day MLC course you will be meeting California's education requirement to become a mediator; there is an experiential component that is also required by the state, meaning that a person must have conducted a certain number of mediations post-training. Further information on requirements may be found here

Target Audience: Superintendents,  SELPA Directors, LEA Special Education Directors, Directors/Coordinators/Program Specialists who facilitate litigious meetings.

Dates Offered

Fall 2023 

February 22-23 & 26-28, 2024 - Online | Registration

Cross Cultural Negotiation and Mediation: Connecting Across Cultures (2-Day)

This two-day training equips participants with an understanding of culture -- with its broad definition -- and underscores the role it plays in conflicts, big and small. Participants will recognize the various cultures they inhabit and learn how culture has the power to divide parties or bring them to resolution, depending on the cultural competence of the mediator. 

Target Audience: Team members who would like to enhance their understanding of the impact of culture and communication, and who have taken either Conflict 101 or MLC.

Dates Offered:

March 19-20, 2024 - Online


Conflict Resolution 101 (1-Day)

This training is designed to introduce participants to the basic concepts, terminology, and practices in alternative dispute resolution. The day-long course begins with the dispute resolution continuum, which provides a foundation of a myriad of conflict resolution processes utilized to resolve disputes. Participants will learn about various conflict styles and personalities and expand their knowledge of conflict resolution skills such as active listening, curiosity, reframing, and creativity. 

Please note: If you have already taken the 5-Day Mediating the Litigated Case training program, this 1-day training will be redundant.  The MLC program covers a majority of the foundational topics touched upon in this training. 

Target Audience: Program Specialists, Case Managers, Site Administration, General Education/Special Education teachers, and Specialists.

Dates Offered:

Dates coming soon


Walking the Balance Beam: Best Practices for the Internal Neutral

In this class we will address the threshold question: can you be an internal neutral? Is it an oxymoron? Or a harmonious role? This course offers the experienced internal “neutrals” an advanced framework for the tricky aspect of their jobs mediating conflict or facilitating IEPs. Participants will be exposed to a set of principles that guide purposeful interventions and elevate group functioning when working with schools, districts, SELPAs, and families.

 The training will provide participants with:

  1. frameworks to mitigate facilitation nightmares
  2. effective interventions to restore disruptive meetings to productive

Target Audience: Program Specialists, Case Managers, Site Administration, General Education/Special Education teachers, and Specialists.

Date Offered:

April 6, 2023 - Online

May 8, 2023 - Online



Hear what special education professionals have shared about the first December pilot training: 

"This program is excellent in supporting special education professionals who want to be able to handle conflict in a way that honors all parties involved in a dispute. Participants will learn effective strategies that focus on the underlying issues of the conflict so they can rebuild or maintain relationships with parents moving forward."

"This was an outstanding program that has improved my practice as a professional mediating disputes, supervising staff and working with difficult individuals. The quality of the instruction was fantastic, with useful and practical learning materials and resources. The whole program was inspiring personally as well. "

"The mediation training for SELPA Administrators has left me in a state of deep reflection on how educators can support transparent communication during times of great conflict and confusion within our field. The training has ignited the desire to sharpen my skills in clear communication to support the process of bringing people together to resolve concerns linked to the outcomes, supports, and services for our most vulnerable youth."