Richard Erhard served public education agencies for nearly three decades in two states, culminating with his position as an assistant superintendent of student services. He is currently Principal | Owner of the consulting firm, Richard Erhard and Associates, LLC, which he formed to provide mediation and consultation services focusing on educational disputes. He provides consultation, coaching and professional development workshops to assist organizations and individuals with first identifying and then effectively communicating their areas of agreement and disagreement to reach mutually agreed upon solutions. He has clients and affiliations with school districts, non-profit organizations and private individuals throughout Southern California and most recently New Mexico and Kentucky.Mr. Erhard is a frequent presenter on the use of alternative dispute resolution in public education, speaking at national and regional educational conferences. While serving on the State Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) ADR Steering Committee, he twice hosted the California Special Education Annual Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference. He presented at LRP’s National Institute on Legal Issues of Educating Individuals with Disabilities in 2018, as well being an invited speaker at the American Bar Association’s 2020 Dispute Resolution Annual Virtual Spring Conference .
Mr. Erhard is an associate member of the American Bar Association (ABA), Dispute Resolution Section, maintaining this relationship for the past twenty years. He is also a member of the ABA Senior Lawyer section and the San Diego County Bar Association, Alternative Dispute Resolution Section. He serves on the board of directors of the Southern California Mediation Association, where he rose from Program Chair to President, and is currently their 2023 immediate Past President.
In January 2019, Mr. Erhard joined the adjunct faculty of the USC Gould School of Law, Center for Conflict Resolution, as a lecturer in law, where his courses include: Special Education Dispute Resolution, Directed Research and most recently Mediation Theory and Practice. His unique course in special education, which teaches law students to resolve disputes within school programs, was featured in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of the USC Law Magazine in the article, Across the Table: the need for neutrals in special education. In 2020, Mr. Erhard was invited by USC to write an article related to the COVID-19 pandemic. His article, Special Education Dispute Resolution in the Era of COVID-19, was published in the USC Gould School of Law, Center for Dispute Resolution ADR Quarterly – Fall 2020. Mr. Erhard was again featured in 2021, with the cover article for the USC ADR Retrospective ADR Quarterly – Winter 2021. This retrospective edition showcased his virtual lecture, The Human Condition: Is Disability Special, Exceptional or a Fact of Life?
Mr. Erhard, with background in parimutuel horseracing and as a race track farrier, was invited to work with the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association (NMHA) in late 2020. Here, in addition to his private dispute resolution practice and faculty position, he served as the NMHA’s executive Director through 2022, assisting with the resolution of long-standing disputes within the horseracing industry, resulting in complex multi-party litigation. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic and horseracing shut down in New Mexico, Mr. Erhard facilitated a “Purse Tax Agreement” in excess of $5MM between the NMHA, New Mexico Horse Breeders Association (NMHBA) and the five (5) New Mexico racetrack management groups. Given his experience, background and current national horseracing affiliations, Mr. Erhard is now accepting clients with disputes under the Interstate Horseracing Act as well as the recently enacted Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA).
Education, Training and Experience
Mr. Erhard’s dispute resolution education, training and experience may be broken out into four components: university degrees, university alternative dispute resolution training programs; alternative/dispute resolution and continuing legal education (CLE) programs, and finally; administrative continuing education (CE) training programs.
During his thirty-four year professional career, Mr. Erhard has successfully facilitated approximately 1,400 Individual Education Program (IEP) meetings, many with extremely complex issues, multiple service providers and parties represented by legal counsel. In addition, since 2004, he has successfully convened countless Resolution Meetings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), following the filing of a due process hearing complaint. Mr. Erhard has been a party to hundreds of post-filing mediations, during his career and since opening his private practice in 2017, has successfully mediated both litigated and non-litigated cases, utilizing an early dispute resolution (EDR) approach whenever possible. In addition, Mr. Erhard is a trained Section 504 Hearing Officer and is on the approved list of Hearing Officers for the Orange County Department of Education in Costa Mesa, California.
Beyond his three university degrees, Mr. Erhard has completed five hundred (500) hours in approved university dispute resolution and/or CLE programs as well as an additional three hundred sixty (360) state of California approved CE programs.
University Degree Programs:
Master of Education – Educational Management and Development
Master of Education – Special Education
Bachelor of Fine Arts
University Alternative Dispute Resolution Training Programs:
Here, Mr. Erhard successfully completed 175 hours of university course work in the following dispute resolution areas:
- Conflict Management and the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution – November 2003University of California, Irvine, 15 quarter units (150 hours)
- Mediation: Consensual Dispute Resolution Processes and Mediation Skills – July 2002Addresses CA Dispute Resolution Programs Act (Bus. & Prof Code Section 465 et. Seq.) University of California, Irvine, (25 hours)
Alternative Dispute Resolution and Continuing Legal Education Programs:
Here, Mr. Erhard successfully completed over 325 hours of dispute resolution and continuing legal education (CLE) programs including, but not limited to:
- Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University, School of Law from 2004 to present, seven (7) Certificates of Completion including: Expanding Mediation: Mindfulness and the “New-New Grid”; Mindfulness in Mediation; A Systematic Approach to Mediation Strategies (STAR); Conflict Resolution Consulting: Using Mediation to Improve Organizational Communications…; Using Practical Tools of Mindful Awareness to Improve the Work and Lives of Lawyers, Mediators, Negotiators, Judges, Arbitrators, and Managers; Conflict Consulting;The Art of Facilitating Dynamic and Difficult Groups; Advanced Mediation: Skills and Techniques
- USC Gould/JAMS Arbitration Institute Webinar Series: The Future of Dispute Resolution – July 2020
- Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University, School of Law: Appreciating our Legacy and Engaging the Future: An International Conference for Dispute Resolution Teachers, Scholars and Leaders – June 2019
- USC Gould/JAMS Arbitration Institute: Best Practices in International Arbitration – March 2019
- California Council of Administrators of Special Education/Office for Civil Rights: Section 504 Hearing Officer Training/Section 504 Seminar – March 2017
- American Institute of Mediation, Grow Your Practice Now! – January 2017
- American Institute of Mediation, Mediating Litigated and Commercial Cases – December 2016
- New Mexico State Department of Education and New Mexico State University: Co-Mediation of Special Education Disputes – January 1990
Administrative Continuing Education (CE) Training Programs:
Here Mr. Erhard has received 360 hours of advanced training through the Association of California of School Administrators (ACSA) in the following areas:
Personnel Administrator’s Academy – 2010/11
Superintendent’s Academy – 2009/10
Business Officer’s Academy – 2008/09
Membership and Affiliations
Mr. Erhard’s professional memberships and affiliations are as follows:
- National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, Member, 2023-Present
- Southern California Mediation Association Board of Directors | Past President, 2023-Present
- Southern California Mediation Association, Board of Directors | President, 2022
- Southern California Mediation Association, Board of Directors | President Elect, 2021
- National Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association (NHBPA)| Affiliate 2021-2022
- New Mexico Racing Commission, Corporate Officer License | NMHA, 2019-2022
- New Mexico Horsemen’s Association (NMHA) | Executive Director, 2019-2022
- San Diego County Bar Assn., Law School Faculty, Dispute Resolution Section, 2019-Present
- Southern California Mediation Association, Board of Directors | Program Chair, 2018-2020
- Alpine Education Foundation, Board of Directors, 2018-Present
- Southern California Mediation Association, Member, 2017-Present
- Orange County Dept. of Ed, list, Section 504 Mediators/Hearing Officers, 2017-Present
- American Bar Association, Associate Member, Dispute Resolution Section, 2003-Present
- American Bar Association, Associate Member, Senior Lawyers Division, 2016-Present
- Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), 2004-Present
- San Diego County Administrators of Special Education, Board of Directors, 2009-2014
- Orange County Superintendents Special Education Legal Alliance, Member, 2006-07
- Orange County Administrators of Special Education, Board of Directors, 2004-07
- New Mexico Corrections Education Task Force, LEA Representative, 1996-98
- New Mexico Association for Retarded Citizens, Board of Directors, 1994-98