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1. Revise certain requirements related to the assignment of surrogate parents.

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 (as newly defined at 34 CFR 300.30) 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; or
  • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section 725(6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(6)).
[34 CFR 300.519(a) and (b)] [20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(2)(A)]

In the case of a child who is a ward of the State, the surrogate parent alternatively may be appointed by the judge overseeing the child’s case, provided that the surrogate meets the requirements in 34 CFR 300.519(d)(2)(i) and (e) (that a surrogate parent may not be an employee of the State educational agency (SEA), the local educational agency (LEA), or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child but that a person otherwise qualified to be a surrogate parent under the IDEA; i.e., 34 CFR 300.519(d), is not considered an employee of the agency solely because he or she is paid by that agency to serve as a surrogate parent).
[34 CFR 300.519(c)] [20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(2)(A)(i)]

In the case of a child who is an unaccompanied homeless youth, appropriate staff of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs, and street outreach programs may be appointed as temporary surrogate parents without regard to 34 CFR
300.519(d)(2)(i) (that a surrogate parent may not be an employee of the SEA, the LEA, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child), until a surrogate parent can be appointed that meets all of the requirements of 34 CFR 300.519(d).
[34 CFR 300.519(f)]

The SEA must make reasonable efforts to ensure the assignment of a surrogate parent not more than 30 days after a public agency determines that the child needs a surrogate parent.
[34 CFR 300.519(h)] [20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(2)(B)]

Dialogue Starter - Cross-stakeholder

Reaction Questions

  1. How might the role of a surrogate parent change if a homeless youth understands and wishes to actively participate in the special education decision-making process about his/her education?

  2. Is there any difference in the ability of a homeless youth to make decisions for themselves and another child to make such decisions?

  3. What is the impact of emancipation on the ability of a judge to assign a surrogate parent for a homeless youth?

Application Questions

  1. What constitutes a reasonable effort to find and appoint a surrogate parent?

  2. What training would be helpful for IEP Teams to implement the provision regarding surrogate parents?

  3. What steps would an SEA and/or districts need to take to ensure that surrogate parents understand their responsibilities and are able to effectively represent students in the education decision-making process?

  4. How does the district coordinate its efforts with judicial actions in the assignment of surrogates? How are any conflicts resolved when each has assigned a surrogate to the same child?

    These questions were developed by the following stakeholders working together:

    Role: Teacher
    Location: West Virginia

    Role: Family Member
    Location: New Jersey

    Role: General Education Administrator
    Location: California

    Role: Higher Education
    Location: Indiana

    Role: Administrator
    Location: Illinois

    Role: Special Education Administrator
    Location: Kentucky