Parents are an essential part of the Individualized Education Program
(IEP) process and are encouraged to work in collaboration with the school.
IDEA 2004 recognizes the importance for parent/school partnerships and
non-adversarial dispute resolution. Parents provide consent to assessment
and provision of special education services. They participate in meetings
for the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child in a
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Parents are included in eligibility
and placement decisions. Parents provide information as to their child's
progress and participate in development of goals and objectives.
Opportunities that are available for parents to participate in training,
volunteer activities and the creation of partnerships include:
- Community Advisory Committee (CAC)
- Resource Parents
- Resource Parent Trainer of Trainers
- IEP Parent Training
- SELPA Staff Development Trainers
- SELPA Committees
Parent Notice of Team Meeting
Parents shall be notified in writing of IEP meetings early enough to ensure
opportunity to participate.
Notification includes the purpose, time, location and person's name or
professional role attending the meeting.
If transition services are to be discussed, it must be stated on the notification.
The notice must indicate that the student, (if appropriate), and agency
representatives (if appropriate) have been invited.
The notification must also inform you of your right to invite others who
have knowledge or special expertise about your child.
Notification shall be addressed to the student as well as parents, as
appropriate for students under age 18 and always at the age of 18 and
older when the parent and student have been informed that the student's
rights have been transferred at the age of majority.
The right to notification extends to parent designee, relative caretaker,
non-custodial parents, surrogate parents, foster parents, and court appointed
The Role of the Parents at an IEP Team Meeting
As equal members of the IEP team, parents of a student being assessed
shall be encouraged to participate in developing, reviewing and revising
the student's Individualized Education Program.
Parents must give consent before any special education service may be
Interpreters for parents whose primary language is not English will be
provided when necessary.
An IEP meeting will be held without a parent present only after a diligent
effort to persuade the parent(s) to attend has failed and at least three
attempts have been made, including at least one written communication.
All attempts should be documented in the student's file. A meeting may
be held by teleconference upon mutual agreement of all parties.
Parents and students have very specific legal rights in the special education
process. The California State Department of Education publishes a list
of these rights and it is distributed regularly to the families of students
with special needs. Districts are required to offer a copy of parent rights
only one time per year except that a copy must also be provided upon initial
referral or parent request for evaluation, upon receiving the first state
or due process complaint per year, when disciplinary action is considered
that constitutes a change of placement by a district, each time you receive
an assessment plan and upon request of the parent. (http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/qa/documents/pseng.pdf)
It is important for special educators to be experts in understanding parent
rights. The law gives them the responsibility for ensuring that a parent
not only receives his/her rights but also is trained and understands them.
Parents shall be informed of their procedural safeguards at the time of
their consent to the assessment plan and at every IEP meeting.
Important Components of Parent Rights
The right of parents to inspect and review their child's educational records.
The right of parents to obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation.
The right of parents to be given written prior notice on matters regarding
the identification, evaluation or educational placement of their child,
or the provision of FAPE for their child.
The right of the child to remain in his or her present educational placement,
unless the parent and the public agency agree otherwise, while administrative
or judicial proceedings are pending.
The right of parents to receive mediation to settle disagreements regarding
their child's special education program through voluntary mediation, a
process through which parties seek mutually agreeable solutions to disputes
with the help of an impartial mediator.
The right of parents to give or refuse consent before their child is provided
with special education and related services.
The right of parents to give or refuse consent before their child is evaluated
The right of parents to be informed about specific discipline procedures
for students with disabilities.
The rights of parents or public agencies to bring a civil or (due process)
action in an appropriate State or Federal court to appeal a final hearing
The right to obtain a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards upon
request or upon the initial referral for a special education assessment.
The rights of parents to request reasonable attorney's fees from a court
for actions or proceedings brought under the IDEA.
Surrogate Parent Procedures
A surrogate parent is a person who represents a student with special education
needs during the assessment process and throughout the development and
implementation of the student's IEP. The surrogate parent's role is to
represent the interests of the student in the special education process.
A surrogate parent is a volunteer from the community who has undergone
training in the special education process Local Educational Agencies must
terminate the appointment of the surrogacy if circumstances arise that
create a conflict of interest during the appointment or the surrogate
is not performing the duties required of the role.
The surrogate parent is required to meet with the student at least once
in their role but may also meet on additional occasions to review, plan
and discuss. An educational surrogate parent shall be appointed in any
of the following cases:
- No parent or foster parent can be identified (definition of parent
as in Sec. 300.10).
After reasonable efforts, the Local Educational Agency (LEA) cannot
discover the whereabouts of a parent.
- The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section
725(6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
- The student is a ward of the state or dependent of the court and the
court has determined that the parent is unavailable or incapable of
participating in the development of the educational program for the
student. (34 CFR 300.514, Ed. Code, 56050 and Govt. Code 7579.5)
- The natural or legal parent or guardian maintains educational signing
rights unless those rights are specifically addressed, removed, and
reassigned by a court of appropriate jurisdiction.
The responsibilities of the LEA include:
Determining whether a student needs an educational
Making every effort to ensure an educational surrogate
is appointed to a student within 30 days of determining the student
Recruitment, assignment, training and evaluation of
the educational surrogate parent.
Terminating the appointment of the surrogacy if circumstances
arise that create a conflict of interest during the appointment or
the surrogate is not performing the duties required of the role and
appointing a new surrogate.
The LEA shall consider the following guidelines when appointing
a surrogate parent:
When possible, first preference shall be a relative
caretaker, or court appointed special advocate.
The appointed person should have no interest that
might restrict or bias his/her ability to advocate for services required
to ensure a free and appropriate education.
The surrogate parent should not be an employee of
a public or private agency that is involved in the education or care
of the student. LCI operators, social workers and probation officers
are not eligible for appointment as surrogate parents. Foster parents
may be eligible to serve as surrogate parents unless there is a court
order specifically prohibiting the appointment.
An educational surrogate parent may represent a student
with disabilities needs in matters relating to identification, assessment,
instructional planning and development, educational placement, reviewing
and revising the individualized education program, and in other matters
relating to the provision of a free appropriate education to the individual.
An educational surrogate may represent a student with
disabilities in all phases of proposed suspension or expulsion.
The surrogate parent may represent the child until
(1) the child is no longer in need of special education, (2) the minor
reaches 18 years of age, unless the child chooses not to make educational
decisions for himself or herself, or is deemed by a court to be incompetent,
(3) another responsible adult is appointed to make educational decisions
for the minor, or (4) the right of the parent or guardian to make
educational decisions for the minor is fully restored.
The surrogate parent and the local educational agency
appointing the surrogate parent shall be held harmless by the State
of California when acting in their official capacity except for acts
or omissions that are found to have been wanton, reckless, or malicious.
If a culturally and ethnically matched educational
surrogate parent cannot be found, the LEA will appoint an interim
educational surrogate parent when decisions regarding special education
services are imminent. (E.C. 56050)
Community Advisory Committee
The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) functions as an advisory body to
the Governance Council and the SELPA Director. It is comprised of parents
of individuals with exceptional needs, parents of other pupils enrolled
in school, special education teachers and other school personnel, and
representatives of local agencies. The committee brings concerns and ideas
to the governing body and relates information from the SELPA back to their
constituencies. The CAC gives input into the local plan and participates
in the development of other SELPA publications.
The goal of the CAC is to empower parents of special education students
to become an effective team member in their child's education through
flexibility, collaboration, knowledge, and effective communication with
other team members.
The CAC is a valuable part of the Special Education Local Plan Area and
enhances the potential for effective school/community partnerships. To
become involved in the CAC or to get information on meeting times and
dates, please call the SELPA office at 827-0949 x 10 or click
Resource parents are a very valuable link to parents as partners. Resource
parents are parents of students with special needs who volunteer to provide
parent-to-parent support to other parents in special education. Resource
Parents are willing to put aside their personal issues to facilitate communication
and empower others to work within the educational system. Resource parents
are specifically trained and sanctioned by the district. After participation
in twelve hours of training in communication, problem solving, and role
definition, plus training in the IEP process, an application and interview.
They provide consultation and may attend IEP meetings when requested.
Please contact the SELPA office for more information.
Record keeping is not mandatory for parents, but it is definitely to
a benefit to keep complete and up-to-date records. Parents will receive
copies of any information generated by the school, they may ask for
additional copies of information as well. Some parent's like to keep
their records organized in a binder or accordion file that includes
the following sections:
Include the name, birth date, and place of birth of family members;
parent/guardian name, address, phone number, place of employment, etc.,
brief health history of parents, grandparents and close relatives.
Developmental History of Child
Include the mother's health during pregnancy and any unusual circumstances
at birth or during the infant/toddler stages. Also note the child's
behavior patterns and other significant growth and development information.
Medical History and Reports
Include the names and addresses of doctors, dates and nature of serious
illnesses and operations, records of the child's immunizations, medications
taken, and a copy of the child's birth certificate.
Include the names and dates of schools attended; names of teachers and
principals and other staff who provided services for your child; copies
of IEPs, test results, therapy reports, or progress reports and examples
List the child's interests, clubs and organizations, camps, special
awards, and pictures.
Include copies of records from any other agencies and letters written
Log all phone calls or visits from agencies or professionals. Include
dates, names, phone numbers, and the purpose and outcome of such contacts.
Click here to download and print "Procedures Guide-Parents