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This week, you will view a case through the eyes of a mediator. Read the Portsmouth School Board case found in the resources section for this week and answer the following questions: Note:


Home » Uncategorized » This week, you will view a case through the eyes of a mediator. Read the Portsmouth School Board case found in the resources section for this week and answer the following questions: Note:

This week, you will view a case through the eyes of a mediator. Read the Portsmouth School Board case found in the resources section for this week and answer the following questions:

Note: Before you jump into answering the questions below, make sure you take some time to briefly introduce the conflict. What is the conflict about? What are the positions and interests of the involved parties? Who are the parties to the conflict, and how has the conflict progressed to this point? Also, keep in mind sensitive pieces of the conflict. Are there any cultural, ethnic, or gender-related issues in this conflict – and if so, how will they affect your decisions regarding the entry phase of the mediation?

  • Who should be involved in the mediation effort?
  • What is the best location for the mediation?
  • What physical arrangements need to be made?
  • What procedures will be used?
  • What issues, interests, and settlement options are important to the parties?
  • What are the psychological conditions of the parties?
  • How will rules or behavioral guidelines be established?
  • What is the general plan for the first joint negotiations in the mediator’s presence? How will specific agenda items be identified and ordered?
  • How will parties be educated about the process, and how will they arrive at an agreement to proceed with negotiations?
  • What possible deadlocks could occur, and how will they be overcome? 

Length: 5 pages,  Include a minimum of 5 scholarly resources. 

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Group Mediation Case

Overview The Portsmouth School Board announced in their last meeting plans to close one of the four district high schools. They presented demographic changes in the city which have lowered enrollments in all but one high school. They also presented results from a consultant group which had inspected all four of the school sites and made note of the need for asbestos removal, needed repairs and estimated cost to repair versus building new schools. The I.C. Norcom and Churchland schools are in the worst condition and need the most repairs to meet state certification safety standards. The Churchland school is the only school with an increase in enrollment over the past five years – all of the others have had a decrease in enrollment.

In conjunction with the City Council a public hearing on the matter was held last month to solicit recommendations from the community. Groups representing the different alumni and communities surrounding the schools were well represented which produced a very heated and emotional discussion resulting in hard feelings throughout the community. The Vice Mayor in closed door meetings with representative from the different alumni groups suggested that they participate in mediation to establish reach consensus and make a recommendation to the City Council and School Board by Jan. l 51_

Council members have expressed privately to each of the representatives their concern that opening the issue to a referendum will polarize the community along racial lines and result in a win/lose situation.

Portsmouth is a fiscally stressed city that has steadily lost population over the past ten years and struggles with maintaining a solid tax base to fund services including education. New housing developments throughout the city part most concentrated in Churchland have not yet generated a surplus revenue, simply offsetting the losses in revenue from the elimination of the car tax. New development, increase in population and tax revenue are heavily concentrated in the Churchland district. A huge amount of land mass in Portsmouth is federally owned (Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Coast Guard Base, public housing tracts, etc.) and does not produce tax revenue. Land under development in the midtown section and downtown section of the city has also produced little revenue as it is privately owned but developers were offered tax incentives to commercially develop the land (most notably the Wal Mart).

Demographically, Portsmouth is 62% African-American and median income is $32,000 per year. Most people work outside of Portsmouth and commute to other cities in the Hampton Roads district. The largest employers are the Navy, the Naval Hospital, Maryview Hospital and the school system.

Recommendations/Concerns of the l C. Norcom Alumni Group LC. Norcom is a historically black high school with a strong identity and politically active alumni group. They have voiced that efforts to close the school are racially motivated and point to the three other schools that are mostly white schools – Wilson and Manor high schools have about 1/3 of their students as African American – at Churchland the number is about I/4th

• J.C. Norcom has regionally ranked football, basketball and girls track teams, has a nationally ranked marching band and has a statewide identity­ many notable African Americans from the Virginia are graduates ofl.C. Norcom. Their recommendation is to renovate the existing structure and close Wilson High School which is located in the same part of the city. They reference a similar approach taken by Granby High School where the alumni and city jointly raised the money to completely refurbish the school instead of razing it and rebuilding somewhere else. They refute concerns about its present location which across from a high crime and drug infested public housing community by referencing long range plans to tear the community down.

Recommendations/Concerns of the Wilson High School Alumni/Community Group Wilson high school is the historically ”white” high school in Portsmouth as Churchland High School was originally in Nansemond County and not actually part of Portsmouth until the county was annexed in the early l 970’s. It has a politically active and widespread alumni. The Wilson Homecoming until recently use to be a citywide event with a parade down main street. The school was not fully integrated until the mid 1970’s with students eligible to attend Wilson, opting to attend J.C. Norcom instead. Most of the teachers and administrators are white and graduates of the school. School spirit and identity are equal to J.C. Norcom. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s a lot of collaboration between the high schools, teachers and community leaders has reduced open racism and prejudice. The football and basketball team have also been regionally ranked as well as the baseball team.

Recommendations/Concerns of the Church/and Alumni/Community Group The Churchland alumni and community are split on their recommendations beyond they do not want the school closed. They cite their location as the clearest reason for remaining open with distance to the other schools being a legitimate factor. Half of the alumni/community wants the existing building to be renovated. The other half expressed concern about the condition of the current structure – it is in the worst condition (leaking roof, not airconditioned, asbestos ceilings, lead paint etc.) and located on the main highway. Increased development has already produced overcrowding with students having to attend classrooms in trailers parked in the back. This half wants a new structure built in land closer to where the new development is occurring – near the Coast Guard Base and away from the busy thoroughfare. The alumni are active and organized, mostly white and middle class professionals who all live in Churchland. The football team and basketball team have had mixed years – some successful years and others not so good. The boys track team and girls hockey teams are state ranked champions.


Recommendations./Concerns of the Manor Alumni/Community Group The Manor alumni and community group are very vocal about not closing their School citing that their building is the newest structure built in 1972 and the city just last year spent $350,000 on repairs to the gymnasium, installing a new floor and roof. The Manor group feels that they are the most vulnerable to closing since they are the newest school with the smallest alumni group and the least organized. They are located in the Southern part of the city in a small community that includes Hodges Manor and Elizabeth Manor. While it is the smallest it is the most economically advantaged group with most students coming from upper middle class homes and upper income homes along the South branch of the Elizabeth River. The school does not have a well known football team or basketball team. No many people outside of the Manor community attend sporting events or know what the school colors or mascot are . . . or care.


The post This week, you will view a case through the eyes of a mediator. Read the Portsmouth School Board case found in the resources section for this week and answer the following questions: Note: first appeared on Writeden.

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