What Is A Surrogate Parent?

A presentation by the El Dorado County Office of
Education Charter SELPA
(adapted from a presentation developed by Riverside County SELPA)
Training Objectives
Examine basic roles, rights, responsibilities,
qualifications, and qualities of surrogate parents
Develop an awareness of the federal and state laws
and regulations which safeguard the rights of children
with disabilities and their surrogate parents
Develop an awareness of the IEP process
Examine the role and responsibilities of surrogate
parents in the IEP process
Discuss techniques for effective surrogate parents in
the IEP process
What Is A Surrogate Parent?
A surrogate parent is a person
appointed by the local education
agency (LEA) or special education
local plan area (SELPA):
 To represent a student for the purpose of
their individualized education program (IEP)
 To ensure that the rights of the student to a
free appropriate public education (FAPE) are
What Are the Responsibilities of
the LEA?
The LEA is responsible for the
assignment of an individual to act as
a surrogate for the parent(s). This
must include a method for:
 Determining whether a child needs a
surrogate parent
 Assigning a surrogate parent to the child
Who Can Be A Surrogate
A surrogate parent must:
 Have knowledge and skills to adequately represent
the student
 Be culturally sensitive to the student
A surrogate parent must not:
 Be an employee of a public agency involved in the
education or care of the student
 Be an employee of a private agency involved in the
education of the student
A LEA shall, as a first preference, select a surrogate who is a relative
caregiver, foster parent, or court-appointed special advocate.
What’s the difference between the
surrogate’s role and the parent’s
Local training requirements, as
stipulated in the local plan
 The term of appointment
 The fact that the surrogate parent’s
service may be terminated if a conflict of
interest arises that may affect the child’s
educational program
Group Home Employees
and Foster Parents
Group home operators or employees are not
Foster parents are allowed to represent
students unless
 They have a conflict of interest
 The placement is short-term (less than 6 months – not
ongoing or long-term)
 There is a Minute Order assigning educational rights
to a specific person
A surrogate parent must not have a conflict of interest. If
one arises, it is the responsibility of the surrogate to
notify the LEA and the SELPA immediately.
Conflict of Interest
“An individual who would have a conflict
of interest…Means a person having any
interests that might restrict or bias
his/her ability to advocate for all of the
services required to ensure a free
appropriate public education for an
individual with exceptional needs.”
(Govt. Code Section 7579.5(3)(e))
When Is a Surrogate Parent
Student does not have a parent,
guardian or conservator, or one can’t be
Student is a ward or dependent of the
court, the court has removed parent’s
rights to make educational decisions
and has not assigned anyone else
Student is an unaccompanied homeless
child or youth
These children may be
living in:
Foster homes
Private group homes
State hospitals
Other health facilities
Residential treatment centers
Legal Guardian
If a child has a legal guardian, a
surrogate is not needed
If someone (grandparent, etc.) is
“acting” as the child’s parent at the
request of the natural parent, a
surrogate is not needed
IDEIA – Individuals with Disabilities
Education Improvement Act
Guarantees students with disabilities:
 Free Appropriate Public Education
 Placement in the Least Restrictive
Environment (LRE)
 Fair assessment procedures
 Parent involvement in educational
IDEIA – Individuals with Disabilities
Education Improvement Act
Offers two major protections:
Individualized Education Program
Due Process Procedures
How Long May a Surrogate
Represent a Student?
A surrogate may represent the child until any
of the following are determined:
The child is no longer in need of special education
The minor reaches 18 years of age
Another responsible adult is appointed to make educational
decisions for the minor
The right of the parent or guardian to make educational
decisions for the minor is fully restored
The surrogate parent may resign from his or her appointment
only after giving notice to the LEA
Surrogate Parent Rights
Same rights regarding educational decisions
as the parent
Surrogate is appointed to assure that the
student’s rights are protected. These rights
 FAPE in accordance with their IEP
 Appropriate, nondiscriminatory educational
assessment in the child’s primary language
 Educated in the LRE for his/her needs
Surrogate Parent Rights
Inspect and have a copy of all educational records
 Request changes in inappropriate or inaccurate
information in student records
 Be informed about assessment procedures, tests,
and results
 Seek an independent assessment when
 Give written consent for nonemergency medical
services, mental health treatment services, and
occupational or physical therapy services when
there is a need for local mental health
Surrogate Parent Rights
Participate fully in planning the IEP
Receive information about special education
Question the appropriateness of the
student’s educational program
Decide if a proposed placement is
appropriate for the child
Agree/disagree with parts or all of the IEP
Participate in disciplinary
(suspension/expulsion) hearings
Surrogate Parent Rights
Talk with people involved with the student’s
education and receive reports and
Review, help make decisions and propose
changes in the student’s educational program
Request a parent/school conference, new
evaluation, or planning meeting
Have an outside person and student attend any
meeting, if appropriate
Request an IEP meeting if needed
Surrogate Parent Rights
Receive information from the school about free or
low cost legal services for legal guidance
Initiate due process proceedings, when necessary
Participate in resolution sessions
Be informed if the school is beginning due process
Be notified in writing when the school proposes
any of the following:
 Assessment of the student
 Changing the student’s placement
 Changing the student’s IEP
 Calling an educational placement meeting
Can a Surrogate Be Held
Surrogate parents are held harmless
when acting in their official capacity
except in acts or omissions found to
have been wanton, reckless, or
malicious (California Government
Code Section 7579.5(l))
Surrogate Parent
Organize and maintain student records
Participate in IEP meetings
Share information about the student with the
IEP team
Monitor the student’s educational progress
Work collaboratively with the school and other
agencies involved with the student
Represent the student in any complaint, due
process, or ADR session
Be familiar with the Procedural Safeguards
Learn about the Student
Learn about the student’s educational
needs by:
 Meet the student at home, school, or in
the community
 Review samples of the student’s work
 Talk with the student’s teacher(s) and
other professionals
 Learn about the student’s area of
Assessment Guidelines
No one test result can be used to
place a student in special education
A team of people will conduct a
multi-disciplinary assessment
Tests and other assessments should
examine all areas of possible
learning difficulties
Testing must be non-discriminatory
IEP Participation
The surrogate should:
listen to the information shared regarding the
student’s needs
ask questions
participate in the writing of the goals and objectives
discuss the student’s strengths and needs
identify concerns
It takes all members of the IEP team to fully
develop an appropriate IEP that truly meets
the student’s needs.
What to Expect at the IEP
Student’s present levels of performance
Data regarding whether goals and objectives from
the last IEP were met
New annual goals will be developed
A transition plan will be developed if the student is 16
or older, or if the student will turn 16 before the next
annual IEP
Specific listing of program and services to be
provided (offer of FAPE)
Date for beginning and ending of services
Discussion of any behavioral concerns and possible
development of a behavior plan
What Else to Expect…
Discussion of…
How student will participate in state and district
Graduation requirements
Transition services (16 and older)
The percentage of time the student will participate in
general education or reason for not participating in
general education
Extended School Year
Placement Options and
By law, students receiving special
education services must be placed in the
“least restrictive environment” (LRE)
This means:
 Students in special education must be
educated “to the maximum extent
appropriate” with children who are not
Continuum of Services
• General education
• General education with Related Services (RS)
• General education with Resource Specialist Program (RSP)
• Special Day Class at home school (SDC)
• Special Day Class at another public school in the school district
• Non-Public School (NPS)
• Home and hospital instruction
• Residential placement
• Institutional placement
Is the Surrogate Involved in
the Discipline Process?
 Positive
Behavior Support Plan
 Functional Assessments
 Manifestation
 Interim Alternative
Setting – 45 school days
A surrogate will be asked to sign all
forms relating to the student’s special
education program, including:
 Assessment plan
 IEP document
 Release of Information
Make sure to ask questions regarding
anything you do not understand.
State and federal law protect the
confidentiality of student records and limit
the disclosure of such records.
Confidential information includes:
All personally identifiable information about
a child in special education
All special education records
When the surrogate’s appointment ends, all records
should be properly returned to the LEA or destroyed.
What If I Have Additional
Please feel free to contact the
El Dorado County SELPA:
Thank you for your time and