Educational Surrogate Parents
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Educational Surrogate Parents

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Educational Surrogate Parents

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Educational Surrogate Parents

By Amy Clark

Child’s Best Interest Attorney



Judicial Circuit


The Great NeedFoster youth who experience more placements are nearly 15% less likely to complete high school when compared to their

peers24% of foster youth struggle with disabilities while in schoolAcross the United States, 52% of foster youth attend schools that rank in the lowest 30 percent

Only 50% will receive a high school


Only 10% of former foster youth will attend college and of that 10%, only 3% will graduate


Surrogate Parent means an individual appointed to act in the place of a parent in educational decisionmaking and in safeguarding a child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this section. Chapter 39.0016 (c)


Children Having Or Suspected Of Having A Disability – Chapter 39.0016 (3)

Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our public policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities. The Legislature also finds that research and experience have shown that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by:

Having high expectations for these children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible.

Providing appropriate exceptional student education, related services, and aids and supports in the least restrictive environment appropriate for these children.

Having a trained, interested, and consistent educational decsionmaker for the child when the parent is determined to be legally unavailable or when the foster parent is unwilling, has no significant relationship with the child, or is not trained in the exceptional student education process.


Chapter 39.0016 (3)(b)Children Having or Suspected of Having a Disability

Requirements: 1. Child known to the department who has or is suspected of having a disability, as defined in s. 1003.01(3)

Exceptional Student means any student who has been determined eligible for a special program in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education. The term includes students wo are gifted and students with disabilities who have an intellectual disability:


Autism Spectrum DisorderSpeech ImpairmentLanguage ImpairmentOrthopedic ImpairmentOther Health ImpairmentTraumatic Brain Injury

Visual ImpairmentEmotional Or Behavioral DisabilitySpecific Learning Disability Including But Not Limited To:Dyslexia



AphasiaStudents Who Are Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing Or Dual Sensory ImpairedStudents Who Are Hospitalized Or HomeboundChildren With Developmental Delays Ages Birth Through 5 Years, Or Children, Ages Birth Through 2 Years, With Established conditions That Are Identified in State board of Educations Rules Pursuant to s. 1003.21(1)(e)


No parent can be located.

A court has determined that no person has the authority under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to serve as the educational decision maker for the child without judicial action (Dependency Case).

Surrogate parent must be at least 18 years old.

Have no personal or professional interest that conflicts with the interests of the student to be represented.

Must have knowledge and skills acquired by successfully completing training using materials developed and approved by the Department of Education to ensure adequate representation of the child.


CAN I BE AN EDUCATIONAL SURROGATE?Those who can not be a surrogate

Those who can be a surrogate Employee of Department of Education

Employee of the local school district

A community-based provider

The Department of Children and Family ServicesAny other public or private agency involved in the education or care of the childGroup Home staffTherapeutic foster parentsFoster parentRelative caregiverRelative or non-relative adult who is involved in the child’s life regardless of whether that person has custody

Court-appointed guardian ad litem – district school superintendent must first consider if the child already has a guardian ad litem


Who Appoints the Surrogate Parent?District SuperintendentThe Court

The Guardian ad Litem Program will motion the court for appointment.If the court appoints the surrogate notice must be given to the child’s school and school board as soon as possible.


Responsibilities of the Surrogate ParentMust be acquainted with the child and become knowledgeable about his or her disability and educational needs

Represent the child in all matters relating to identification, evaluation, and educational placement and the provision for free and appropriate education to the childRepresent the interests and safeguard the rights of the child in educational decisions that affect the child.


How Long Does the Appointment of the Surrogate Parent Last?

Surrogate Parents continue in their role until one of the following occurs:Child is determined to no longer be eligible or in need of special programs, except when termination of special programs is being contested.The child achieves permanency through adoption or legal guardianship and is no longer in the custody of the department.The parent who was previously unknown becomes known, whose whereabouts were unknown is located, or who was unavailable is determined by the court to be available.

The appointed surrogate no longer wishes to represent the child or is unable to represent the child.

The superintendent of the school district in which the child is attending school, the Department of Education contract designee, or the court that appointed the surrogate determines that the appointed surrogate parent no longer adequately represents the child.

The child moves to a geographic location that is not reasonably accessible to the appointed surrogate.


Now WhatEvaluate your case load to determine if you already have children with Individual Educational Plans (IEP).Of those with IEPs – Do these children have a surrogate?

IF no – Do they need one?Do they have anyone designated as their educational decision-maker. Evaluate your case load to determine if you have children that are suspected of a disability. Remember any child suspected of a disability is entitled to have an educational surrogate appointed to help pursue the process of getting an IEP.