SchoolTalk sees the ‘power with’ approach as the key to effective special education conflict resolution. SchoolTalk recognizes that empowering all voices within and beyond the District of Columbia disability community to create positive change will ensure a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and successful future for all youth with disabilities.


SchoolTalk helps the DC special education community (including students, families, schools, government agencies and community organizations) constructively address each stage of conflict, from prevention to whole systems change.


SchoolTalk was created in 2008 by the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the DLA Piper law firm in response to a request for assistance from DC Public Schools (DCPS) to address a particularly challenging problem at that time – why did DCPS have more special education due process hearings than any state in the nation? Recognizing that the DC school system had few alternatives for preventing and resolving special education disputes, DC Appleseed and DLA Piper convened a task force that included dispute resolution specialists from the Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE), the Center for Dispute Settlement, the National Association of State Director s of Special Education, and Georgetown University, as well as local mediators, education consultants, attorneys, DCPS administrators, and parents. It is this team that created SchoolTalk to help create special education dispute resolution alternatives. The goal of SchoolTalk is to ensure that the DC special education  community members (including students, families, schools, government agencies and community organizations) have quality options to address their concerns and resolve their differences in ways that preserve and improve their relationships, rather than undermine them.