Renae Waterman Aldana, Milwaukee, WI

Name: Renae Waterman Aldana

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Education: Juris Doctor Law Degree – University of Wisconsin Madison; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science – University of Wisconsin Madison

Current Position: Private Practice Mediator and Facilitator

Perspective Regarding Mediation/Facilitation: As the parent of a child with a disability, I’ve advocated for and supported our child in the Birth to Three program, our public school district, clinical settings and out in the world. Before becoming a mediator, I assisted school administrators, teachers and related service providers in special education law matters for over 20 years. From these experiences, I know that preventing and resolving special education concerns, disagreements, and disputes is difficult but critically important work.

In facilitated IEP team meetings, I help families and schools through the IEP process. I prompt open, productive conversation and support informed decision-making. As both a parent and a legal advisor to schools, I’ve participated in hundreds of IEP team meetings. So I thoroughly understand the process, the barriers to consensus, and effective ways to reach agreement.

In mediation, I help families and select school staff work together as a mediation team. In this setting, we have more informal conversations, exchange information and speak freely in a confidential setting. We can be creative and innovative in all areas, including eligibility for services, IEP development and implementation, student behavior and discipline, shortened school day and educational placements. We can address any concerns you raise – whether related to the IEP or not. We can develop concrete, practical and durable plans of action, but we can also work to grow, restore or repair relationships and communications.

In both facilitated IEP team meetings and mediations, my role is to support all team members in their decision-making. I help you voice concerns, share opinions, and get the information you need to make the best decisions possible. Mediation is hard work, and there are many ways to do this work. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. I help structure every mediation in a way that fits the unique needs and circumstances of each family and each school district. I am neutral, and I’m strongly invested in helping families and schools find creative solutions that work for everyone.

Mediation/Facilitation/Special Education Experience:

  • Mediator for Milwaukee County Parenting Conference Program
  • over 20 years as advisor/attorney in special education matters (including mediation and IEP team meetings)
  • over 12 years training WSEMS mediators at annual mediator training as a co-presenter with an attorney representing families
  • frequent presenter at national and statewide conferences regarding special education
  • author of 1998 Wisconsin Law Review article and numerous other publications/articles regarding special education
  • former part-time professor of education law at Marquette University Law School

Mediation Training:

  • Pepperdine Law School Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution mediator training program, including study of mediation styles, communication and resolution strategies.
  • Milwaukee County Parenting Conference Program training, including study of cultural awareness and dispute resolution in child custody, educational decision-making, placement and child support matters.
  • Minnesota Bar Association Continuing Legal Education in mediation and dispute resolution strategies, including study of communication styles and cultural awareness.
  • Center For Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) Continuing Legal Education, including study of communication strategies and relationship repair.
  • Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System annual mediator training and 5-day mediator training program.

Disclosures: I am the parent of a child with autism, and I was previously an attorney in private practice representing public school districts in special education matters.