Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

AAV of the Surrogate Parents Training Module

Accessible Alternate Version of the Surrogate Parents in California Special Education: An Overview Training Module.

This page is the Accessible Alternative Version (AAV) of the Surrogate Parents in California Special Education: An Overview Training Module PowerPoint Presentation (PPT) posted on the Surrogate Parents in California Special Education Web page. The PowerPoint version is considered to be the official version of the document.

Back to the Surrogate Parents in California Special Education Web page


Slide 1

Surrogate Parents in California Special Education:
An Overview
Training Module
Logo - California Department of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction

Slide 2

California Government Code 7579.5(m) mandates that the California Department of Education,
“…develop a model surrogate parent training module and manual that shall be made available to local educational agencies.”

Slide 3

The goal of the manual is to provide a common body of information for local policy makers.
The manual also provides references to statutes and regulations, sample forms, and documents containing other agency guidelines.

Slide 4

The Manual: Surrogate Parents in California Special Education: An Overview
Appointment process
Rights, responsibilities and requirements of surrogate parents
Recruiting surrogate parents
Training surrogate parents
Responsibilities and roles of agencies in this program

Slide 5

Also found at it’s location on the California Department of Education’s Web site are Statute Code of References
Sample Forms court forms and forms in use by Special Education Local Planning Areas SELPAs
Definition of Frequently Used Terms

Slide 6

This Surrogate Parent Training Module Includes:
Who has the authority to appoint a Surrogate
Protocol to appoint a surrogate
Conflict of Interest
Parent or Surrogate’s role in special education

Slide 7

We wish to express our appreciation and thanks to Randi Barrat
Randi Barrat, Assistant Public Defender, Juvenile Division, County of Sacramento, provided an analysis of issues regarding the current status of the law. Many of the issues she raised are reflected in the content of these training materials.

Slide 8

The Term “Surrogate Parent”
Surrogate Parent was used in the original1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142), which later became Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requiring that both the state or local educational agency may select a surrogate in any way permitted under state law, but also that a person selected as a surrogate have “no interest that conflicts with the interests of the child he or she represents.

Slide 9

Current Federal Law
Federal law requires state, intermediate, and local educational agencies to establish and maintain procedures for assigning a surrogate parent to a student whenever the location of the biological parents or guardian of the child is not known or available or the child is a ward of the state.

Slide 10

Current Federal Law (continued)
The surrogate parent must not be an employee of any public agency involved in the education or care of the child.
20 United States Code §1415(b)(2)(A),
34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.519(d)(2)(i)

Slide 11

Current State Law
This requirement is also reflected in state law.
The local educational agency shall terminate the appointment of a surrogate parent if the person has an interest that conflicts with interests of the child entrusted to his or her care.
… An individual … with a conflict of interest … (would include) employees of the State Department of Education, the local educational agency, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child.
California Government Code §7579.5(h)(i) and (j)

Slide 12

Findings and Purposes of IDEA
In its findings and purposes for the IDEA Congress stated:
Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring families of such children have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home.
20 United States Code §1400(c)(5)(B)

Slide 13

Findings and Purposes of IDEA (continued)
When IDEA was reauthorized in 2004, Congress added the following new provision:
“In the case of a child who is a ward of the State, such surrogate may alternately be appointed by the judge overseeing the child’s care.”
20 United States Code 1415 (b)(2)(A)(i); 34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.519(c)

Slide 14

Current Federal Law
A surrogate parent may now be appointed by a court.
If the court has not appointed a surrogate, and one is needed, the LEA may appoint a surrogate.

Slide 15

Current Federal Law (continued)
Federal law directs that the appointment of a surrogate parent for a ward by a judge is not subject to the same appointment process required for school districts as long as the judicial appointment is not an employee of the state education agency, local education agency, or any other agency involved in the education or care of the child.

Slide 16

Response to Comments about Proposed Federal Regulations
The Office of Special Education Programs of the United States Department of Education clarified in their comments to publication of their 2006 federal regulations: “We decline to impose additional requirements for surrogate parents for children who are wards of the state beyond what is required by the Act, so as to interfere as little as possible with State practice in appointing individuals to act for the child.
Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 156 / Monday, August 14, 2006 / Rules and Regulations, p. 46711

Slide 17

New Rules of California Court
The Judicial Council of California adopted rules of court to address revised federal regulations effective January 2008. These are updated annually and may be referenced at the California Courts, Rules of the Court Web page External link opens in new window or tab..
The rules related to appointment of Educational Representatives (Surrogate Parents) are located within
Title Five. Family and Juvenile Rules (Rules 5.1 - 5.830)

Slide 18

Who Can Be A Surrogate Parent?
A surrogate parent must be an adult appointed by the LEA to represent a student whenever the student does not have parental representation and has been referred for, or is currently being served in, special education
34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.519(d)(2); California Education Code §56050; California Government Code §7579.5(c)

Slide 19

Who Can Be A Surrogate Parent? (Continued)
From the 2009 California Rules of the Court, Rule 5.651: At the disposition hearing and at all subsequent hearings provided for in (a), the juvenile court must address and determine the child's general and special education needs, identify a plan for meeting those needs, and provide a clear, written statement using Findings and Orders Limiting Right to Make Educational Decisions for the Child, Appointing Educational Representative, and Determining Child's Educational Needs (form JV-535), specifying the person who holds the educational rights for the child.

Slide 20

Considerations - Court-appointed Surrogate Parent (Educational Representative)
The court's findings and orders must address the following:

  1. Whether the child's educational, physical, mental health, and developmental needs are being met;
  2. Any services, assessments, or evaluations, including those for special education and related services, that the child may need;
  3. Who is directed to take the necessary steps for the child to begin receiving any necessary assessments, evaluations, or services;

Slide 21

Considerations - Court-appointed Surrogate Parent (continued)

  1. If the child's educational placement changed during the reporting period, whether
    1. The child's educational records, including any evaluations of a child with a disability, were transferred to the new educational placement within two business days of the request for the child's enrollment in the new educational placement; and
    2. The child is enrolled in and attending school; and

Slide 22

Considerations - Court-appointed Surrogate Parent (continued)

  1. Whether the parent's or guardian's educational rights should be limited;
    1. If the court finds the parent's or guardian's educational rights should not be limited, the court must direct the parent to his or her rights and responsibilities in regard to the child's education as provided in rule 5.650(e) and (f); or
    2. If the court finds the parent's or guardian's educational rights should be limited, the court must determine who will hold the child's educational rights. The court must explain to the parent or guardian why the court is limiting his or her educational rights and must direct the parent or guardian to the rights and responsibilities of the education representative as provided in rule 5.650(e) and (f).

Slide 23

Considerations for Court and LEA-appointed Surrogate Parents
Requirement that a surrogate parent shall have:

  • ….knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child.
    34 Code of Federal Regulations 300.519(d)
  • California Government Code §7579.5(d) requires that the surrogate parent meet with the child at least one time.

Slide 24

Considerations for Court and LEA-appointed Surrogate Parents (continued)
California Government Code §7579.5 states that the LEA must appoint a surrogate parent for a child with a disability under the following circumstances:

  • The biological or adoptive parents cannot be identified or located after reasonable effort.
  • The child has a court-appointed person authorized to make educational decisions.
  • The child’s court-appointed “parent” is unwilling or unable to serve as the surrogate parent.

Slide 25

Parent – Federal Law
It is important to know which persons fall within the definition of “parent” because the LEA may not appoint a surrogate parent for a child who has a parent.

Federal regulations implementing IDEA define “parent” as a biological or adoptive parent of a child or a specific person authorized to act as the “parent” by virtue of a court order.
34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.30(b)(2)

Slide 26

Parent – Federal Law Continued
Such persons could include guardians, foster parents, caregiver relatives, or other court-appointed child advocates.
34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.30(a)(2)-(4)

Slide 27

Parent – Federal Law Continued
Federal Regulation defining Parent, includes a Surrogate Parent, and also includes a guardian generally authorized to act as the child’s parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the child, (but not the State if the child is a ward of the state)…
34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.30(a)(3)

Slide 28

Parent - State Law
California law uses slightly different language. “Parent” includes

  • any person having legal custody of a child
  • any adult pupil for whom no guardian or conservator has been appointed
  • a person acting in the place of a natural or adoptive parent including a grandparent, step-parent, or other relative with whom the child lives, or
  • a foster parent if the authority of a parent to make educational decisions on the child’s behalf has been specifically limited by court order.
    California Education Code §56028(b)

Slide 29

Parent - State Law (continued)
"Parent" also includes a surrogate parent.

"Parent" does not include the state or any political subdivision of government or a non-public, non-sectarian school or agency under contract with a local educational agency for the provision of special education or designated instruction and services for a child
California Education Code §56028(b)

Slide 30

Adult Students in Special Education
When a student reaches the age of eighteen, adult rights accorded under California law include the authority over his or her own education unless the adult student chooses not to make decisions or a court deems the student incompetent.
California Government Code §7579.5(k)

Slide 31

Adult Students
An LEA has no authority to appoint a surrogate parent for an adult student even if the IEP team considers the student incapable of participating in the educational process as a result of his or her disabilities. A court may appoint a conservator for this purpose.

Slide 32

Conflict of Interest
There is an inherent conflict of interest for a social worker or a probation officer to be appointed by either an LEA or the court to serve as a Surrogate Parent for a dependent or ward of the court placed in the care and custody of a the Department of Social Services (child welfare agency) or the Department of Probation pursuant to the court’s authority under California Welfare and Institutions Code §§326 and 727.

Slide 33

Liability
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 §7579.5(l)

Slide 34

Criteria for Appointing a Surrogate Parent
Each public agency must ensure that the rights of a child are protected by determining the need for, and assigning, a surrogate parent whenever:

  • No parent can be identified.
  • The public agency, after reasonable efforts, cannot locate a parent.
  • The child is a ward of the State under the laws of that State.
  • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section 725(6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act … and
  • The child is referred or eligible for special education

Slide 35

Summary
In summary, state and federal law require that each person appointed as a surrogate parent shall:

  • Not be an employee of a public or private agency involved in the education or care of the child.
  • Have no interest that conflicts with the interests of the child he or she represents.
  • Have knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child.

An LEA shall, as a first preference, select a surrogate who is a relative caregiver, foster parent, or court-appointed special advocate. If none of these is willing or able to serve, another person may be appointed to be the surrogate
California Government Code §7579.5(b)

Slide 36

What are Parent’s Rights in California Special Education?
Parents and Students who have reached the age of majority have the right

  • To Participate
  • To Receive Prior Written Notice
  • To Consent
  • To Refuse to Consent
  • To be given a Nondiscriminatory Assessment
  • To Receive Independent Educational Assessments
  • To Access Educational Records
  • To Stay in the Current Program if there is a Disagreement about Placement
  • To Be Given a Hearing Regarding Disagreements about an IEP
  • To Receive Mediation
  • To File a Complaint against Your School District
  • To Be Informed of School Discipline and Alternate Placement
  • To Be Informed of Policies Regarding Children Who Attend Private Schools

Parent's Rights Web page

Slide 37

Location
The Surrogate Parent Training Module and Manual are located on the California Department of Education, Surrogate Parents in California Special Education Web page.

 

Questions: Kristin Wright | kwright@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0756 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 14, 2014

Share this Page

Recently Posted in Special Education

  • Nonpublic Schools and Agencies Certification Data (XLS) (added 08-Feb-2016)
    Spreadsheet containing certification status, contact information and services provided by California Department of Education certified Nonpublic Schools and Agencies, along with instructions on using the data worksheet and de
  • California's Annual State Application for 2016 (added 03-Feb-2016)
    Annual State Application under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is to be submitted by May 12, 2016, for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2016.