Surrogate Parents for Exceptional Students

Surrogate Parent is an individual appointed to act in the place of a parent in educational decision-making and in safeguarding a student’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). According to F.S. Chapter 39 - When a child is placed into licensed out of home care (including Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care and Residential Programs) and has been identified as requiring/potentially requiring ESE services; the GAL, Foster Parent, Surrogate Parent, or other caretaker may serve as the parent for educational purposes if:

  • The students natural parents’ whereabouts or identity is unknown; or

  • A court of competent jurisdiction has terminated the parents’ rights; or

  • There are more than five children in the licensed out of home placement; or

  • The child is entitled by law to a surrogate but does not fit the criteria, will be determined on a case by case basis.

Exceptional Student means any student who has been determined eligible for a special program in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education.  The term includes students who are gifted and students with disabilities who have an intellectual disability including:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder                                          

  • Speech Impairment

  • Language Impairment

  • Orthopedic Impairment

  • Other Health Impairment

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Visual Impairment

  • Emotional or Behavioral Disability

  • Specific Learning Disability Including But Not Limited To: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Developmental Aphasia

  • Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing Or Dual Sensory Impaired

  • Hospitalized Or Homebound Students

  • Children With Developmental Delays

What are the duties of a Surrogate Parent?

A Surrogate Parent is expected to:

  • Become familiar with the district’s procedures for providing services to exceptional students.

  • Meet the student.

  • Meet the student’s teacher(s) and others who work with the student.

  • Observe the student’s school day.

  • Become familiar with the student’s background, abilities and disabilities.

  • Participate in IEP, Educational Plan (EP), Academic Improvement Plan (AIP) and other educational meetings

  • Help make decisions about the student’s education.

  • Give or withhold consent for actions proposed by the district, as appropriate.

  • Give permission for field trips, release of records, photographs, etc. to be an appropriate part of the student’s educational program.

  • Ask the school to take actions related to the student’s education.

  • Understand all procedural safeguards available and invoke them as appropriate.

Responsibilities which are not part of the Surrogate Parent:

The following areas are specifically excluded from the Surrogate Parent:

  • Care, maintenance and custody of the child.

  • Residential treatment placement.

  • Identification and evaluation of activities not relating specifically to special education.

Termination of a Surrogate Parent is appropriate when:

  • The child is determined to no longer be eligible for or in need of special education programs.

  • The legal guardianship of the child is assigned to a person who is able to assume the role of the parent.

  • The parent who was previously unknown becomes known, or the whereabouts of the parents that were previously undiscovered are discovered.

  • The child reaches the age of majority and is no longer in need of a Surrogate Parent for educational matters.

The SCC case manager may not sign as the parent or surrogate for a referral for an evaluation for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or as authorizing participation in the program