Updated July 2020
Parents have the right to make educational
decisions for their minor child unless the child is in legal guardianship,
has been freed for adoption, or the court has specifically limited the
parents' educational rights.
Since schools are required to get
parent consent for assessments and services for children with special
needs, situations arise in which the school may be unsure who holds educational
rights for the child. In these cases, the school personnel should:
Assume that the natural parents share educational
rights, unless you have been provided with information to the contrary.
This information must be in the form of a legal document from a court
officer (a divorce decree listing "educational rights" or
"all rights" to one party, a document naming another person
as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), or a written document
from the natural parent stating that they have assigned educational
rights to another responsible adult. If you have not received one
of these documents but have reason to believe the natural parent does
not have educational rights, ask for documentation before proceeding.
2. Parents are not prevented from designating another adult individual
to represent the interests of the child for educational and related
If the information described above is not available
and the natural parents cannot be contacted, school personnel should
appoint a responsible adult as a Surrogate Parent for the purposes
of approving special education assessments and services. The law requires
the district to appoint: (a) relative caregivers, (b) foster parents,
and (c) CASAs if available. If none are available, the school can
select the surrogate of its choice, as long as that person does not
have a conflict of interest. A "conflict of interest" is
usually defined as having any interest that might bias his or her
ability to advocate for all of the services required to ensure a free
appropriate public education Thus, a paid employee of a non-public
school, for example, would not fill the conditions of a Surrogate
Parent. Please refer to the "Parents as Partners" section
for more information regarding the appointment of a surrogate parent.
Act in a timely manner to proceed with the
assessment and IEP. The need for a Surrogate Parent should not delay
the Special Education timelines.
Click here to download and print "Educational Rights
" July 2020