Surrogate Parents

What is a Surrogate Parent?

A surrogate parent is an individual who represents an IDEA-eligible child or thought-to-be eligible child in matters relating to the identification, assessment, educa­tional placement, and the provision of FAPE.This is a long-standing provision and is intended to describe the areas in which a surrogate parent may represent the child.

Federal regulations provide a legal definition of a surro­gate parent and delineate the requirements that must be met when a public agency selects and assigns a surrogate parent for a child. Specifically, federal law requires SEAs, IUs, and LEAs to establish and maintain procedures for assigning a surrogate parent to a child whenever the location of the parent or guardian of the child is not known or available, the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth, or the child is a ward of the State. The surrogate parent must not be an employee of any public agency involved in the education or care of the child. For more information on this topic see Chapter 3.

A surrogate parent is an individual who meets specific qualifications and volunteers to perform the duties of a parent or guardian in the special education process. Surrogate parents can be appointed by a judge or a public agency to make decisions related to the provision of special education services for IDEA-eligible children or thought-to-be eligible children.

What is the Surrogate Parent’s Role?

The surrogate parent’s role is the same as the role of a parent—to represent the rights of the student in the special education process. The surrogate parent must ensure that the rights of IDEA-eligible or thought-to-be eligible children are protected.

Who Can Serve as a Surrogate Parent?

A surrogate parent appointed by the LEA shall:

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

All individuals who are appointed as surrogate parents MUST, however, successfully complete the surrogate parent training in order to serve as a surrogate parent.

If you are interested in becoming a Surrogate Parent for the Jersey Shore Area School District, please call the special education office at (570) 398-5250.