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SFUSD-BASF Partnership

The Bar Association of San Francisco - San Francisco Unified School District Partnership

Collaborative Conferences and Communication Strategy Sessions

Key Personnel

Marilyn King, BASF ADR Manager or 415-782-8905


John Taylor, EdD, SFUSD ADR Program Administrator or 510-359-0043


Carole Conn, BASF ADR Director or 415-782-8934



In 2015, a 5-year grant provided by the California Department of Education (CDE) was awarded to San Francisco Unified School District to develop an ADR program to help resolve compliance complaints between parents and the district in the Special Education Department. In partnership with the Bay Area Mediation Services program of The Bar Association of San Francisco, mediation and communication consultation services will be provided.   

The SFUSD/BASF ADR Program will be available for both formal compliance complaints submitted to CDE and informal compliance complaints where services for children with disabilities are unresolved.

There are two components to the project: Collaborative Conferences (mediations without attorney counsel present) and Communication Strategy Sessions for school district personnel.


Collaborative Conferences

BASF-referred mediators facilitate a two-hour session called a “Collaborative Conference” between parents and school district personnel, with the intent of bringing about a positive – less confrontational – approach to finding a student-centered resolution.

The conferences will be scheduled within 30 days of the requested conference.

Prior to the conference, the mediator will make brief contact with each of the participants attending the conference to introduce the process and glean any information the participant wishes the mediator to know. It is hoped that over time the use of the “Collaborative Conference” ADR process is one which will better establish ongoing communication expectations between parents and the school district, repair relational trust and reduce the need for the filing of compliance complaints. 

Communication Strategy Sessions for SFUSD Personnel

By telephone, one-on-one Communication Strategy Sessions with district personnel (only) will be provided each week if district personnel so requests.

Communication Strategy Sessions will occur as needed for up to two hours per session about a given case or cases. 

The ADR Administrator will provide the email and/or phone number of the district personnel requesting a session; BASF ADR Manager will assign the request to a mediator who will email or call the district personnel and schedule a session.

The mediator will then let the BASF ADR Manager know if the scheduled session occurred.

Cancelations or rescheduling of Communication Strategy Sessions shall occur with 24 hours advance notice.  Sessions canceled with less than 24 hour notice, or where there is a failure to show, will result in one-hour payment to the mediator for his or her time.

The purpose is to improve the overall culture among school district personnel regarding the most successful communication strategies to use when addressing unresolved complaints and thereby help to shape constructive resolutions between the district and families going forward when differences arise.

Mediator Assignment and Scheduling

SFUSD ADR Program Administrator Ricki Jo Scott will submit a request for a mediator for either a Collaborative Conference or a Communication Strategy Session to BASF ADR Manager Marilyn King.  Ms. King will make the assignment to the SFUSD mediator and provide the relevant materials and contact information.

For Collaborative Conference assignments, Ms. King will indicate to the mediator the scheduling needs of the participants; should a first mediator not be available, Ms. King will approach another suitable mediator for the matter. If further coordination on scheduling is needed with district personnel, Ms. Scott will handle the broader coordination through a scheduling poll of all participants, including the selected mediator.

Regarding scheduling a mediator for Communication Strategy Sessions, Ms. Scott will alert Ms. King at the end of every week if a mediator is needed for the next week.  Only in the event a mediator is needed will Ms. King make an assignment at the beginning of the following week for an available mediator to provide the communication strategy services. The assigned mediator will work directly with the SFUSD staff member to schedule a time for the session.

Notice of cancelation of a Collaborative Conference or Communications Strategy Session must be made 24 hours in advance of the scheduled Conference or Session. Should a cancelation occur with less than 24 hours’ notice, or where there is a failure to show, the mediator will be compensated for his or her time.

Mediator Guidelines for Collaborative Conferences

Purpose:  The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that, regardless of which BASF mediator is selected, the same information is provided to all participants at the start of the Collaborative Conference.

The mediator will tell participants the following:

  1. Voluntary Process:  This process requires your consent to be here and proceed through the entirety of the Conference. 

  2. Facilitator's Role:
    • My role is to help the participants hear one another, ensure that everyone feels free to discuss whatever is important to them and assist in negotiating a resolution.
    • My role is to facilitate communication and listening. I cannot make a ruling, compel a decision, or order that anything be done. Whatever agreement is reached is one that the participants themselves create.

  3. Confidential: Anything said during the conference CANNOT BY LAW (California Evidence Code) be used in any other forum. 

  4. Communication: During the conference, it will be important to be respectful in your language and not interrupt when somebody is speaking.
    • Each participant should strive to do the best job they can of listening carefully to the other side, even though that can be challenging at times.
    • If someone feels like interrupting, write down your thoughts instead. 

  5. Impartiality: I am unbiased in this proceeding.  I do not work for either side, have a stake in what outcome is reached, or have a prior relationship with any participant here today. [If you have mediated with a participant in the past, disclose that.]

  6. Time Limitation: We have a two-hour period of time today to seek a resolution. I will try to be as efficient as possible so we can make the best use of our time.

  7. Caucusing: If there is something one participant wishes to convey but not in the presence of the other participant, we must agree that I can speak with one side outside of the presence of the other. This should only occur if there is a compelling reason.

    The mediator will also cover:

  8. Logistics: Explain that participants are free to free to take breaks as needed, and go over other logistics, including how the session will unfold.

  9. Thank you: Thank the participants (at the beginning and again at the end of the session) for allowing you to work with them to try to resolve their dispute and for participating in the process.   


Mediator Billing for Collaborative Conferences and Communication Strategy Sessions

Submit a W-9 form to The Bar Association of San Francisco with your first invoice if BASF doesn’t have it on file already. 

Prepare an invoice in the amount of $350.00 for each two-hour Collaborative Conference and separately, $150.00 for each hour of a Communication Strategy Session. Each fraction of an hour constitutes one hour of billing for Communication Strategy Sessions. A second Collaborative Conference or Communication Strategy Session may be scheduled directly with the participants if needed.

Please submit your invoice (and W-9 form) to BASF ADR Manager, Marilyn King at or mail to:

ATTN:  Marilyn King
The Bar Association of San Francisco
301 Battery Street, Third Floor
San Francisco, CA  94111

Please allow 2-4 weeks for payment from BASF.