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Santa Maria-Bonita SD |  AR  6159.3  Instruction

Appointment Of Surrogate Parent For Special Education Students   

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The Superintendent or designee shall appoint a surrogate parent to represent a child with disabilities under one or more of the following circumstances. (Government Code 7579.5; 34 CFR 300.519)

1. No parent for the child can be identified. As amended in Federal Register No. 64, Vol. 48, 34 CFR 300.20 and 300.519 provide that the definition of "parent," as used below, includes a foster parent. "Parent" includes any of the following:

a. Any person having legal custody of a child.

b. Any adult student for whom no guardian or conservator has been appointed.

c. A person acting in the place of a parent (such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child lives).

d. Any person appointed as a surrogate volunteer.

e. A foster parent if:

(1) The natural parents' authority to make educational decisions on the child's behalf has been specifically limited by court order (in accordance with subsection (b) of Section 300.20 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.)

(2) The foster parent has an ongoing, long-term parental relationship with the child.

(3) The foster parent is willing to make decisions required of parents regarding special education.

(4) The foster parent has no interest that would conflict with the interests of the child.

f. "Parent" does not include the state or any political subdivision of government.

2. The district, after reasonable efforts, cannot discover the location of a parent or legal guardian of the child.

3. The child is adjudicated a dependent or ward of the court pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 300, 601 or 602, and either the court has referred the child for special education and related services or the child has a valid individualized education program (IEP).

A surrogate parent shall not be appointed for a child who is a dependent or ward of the court unless the court specifically limits the rights of the parent/guardian to make educational decisions for the child. In addition, a surrogate parent shall not be appointed for a child who has reached the age of majority unless he/she has been declared incompetent by a court of law. (Government Code 7579.5)

When appointing a surrogate parent, the Superintendent or designee shall give first preference to a relative caretaker, foster parent or court-appointed special advocate, provided any of these individuals exists and is willing to serve. If none of these individuals is willing or able to act as a surrogate parent, the Superintendent or designee shall select the surrogate parent of his/her choice. If the child is moved from the home of the relative caretaker or foster parent who was appointed as a surrogate parent, the Superintendent or designee shall appoint another surrogate parent, if necessary. (Government Code 7579.5)

As far as practical, a surrogate parent should be culturally sensitive to his/her assigned child. (Government Code 7579.5)

Surrogate parents may include, but are not limited to, foster care providers, retired teachers, social workers, probation officers, and employees of any public agencies or group homes, provided that such persons are not involved in the child's education or care and do not have a conflict of interest in representing the child.

Surrogate parents shall be removed if:

1. It is determined that they have a conflict of interest or are not adequately representing the child.

2. The student is no longer eligible for special education.

3. Another responsible adult is appointed to make educational decisions for the student. (Any parent or guardian who maintains the right to make educational decisions for his or her child may designate another adult to represent the interests of the child for purposes of educational and related services.)

4. Parent regains educational rights.

If the appointment is terminated, the Superintendent or designee shall appoint another surrogate parent. (34 CFR 300.519; Government Code 7579.5)

The surrogate parent shall have all the rights relative to the child's education that a parent has under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 USC 1400-1482; 34 CFR 300.1-300.818). The surrogate parent may represent the child in all matters relating to identification, assessment, instructional planning and development, educational placement, review and revision of the IEP, and in other matters relating to the provision of a free and appropriate public education. (Education Code 56050; Government Code 7579.5)

The surrogate parent will be able to review the student's education records at the school or district. They will be given a copy of the student's current IEP. At the end of their term, the district will request that all copies of IEP's be returned to the IEP chairperson.

In addition, the representation of the surrogate parent shall include the provision of written consent to the IEP including nonemergency medical services, mental health treatment provided by the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, and occupational or physical therapy provided by California Children's Services. (Government Code 7570-7588) The surrogate parent may sign any consent relating to IEP purposes. (Education Code 56050)

Surrogate parents shall volunteer their services to the district and serve without compensation. The district may reimburse them for mileage and other incidental expenses directly associated with their duties as surrogate parents.


approved: February 26, 2003 Santa Maria, California