Framework (What’s Required):
The local education agency (LEA), must take steps to ensure parent participation in the Admission, Review, and Dismissal/Individualized Education Program (ARD/IEP) process and afford the opportunity for parent participation. In the event the parent(s) of a child eligible for special education services is not known, the child is a ward of the state or the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth, the LEA must determine whether or not a surrogate parent is warranted.
The LEA must also ensure that surrogate parents are selected in accordance with federal and state guidelines prior to representing students with disabilities in the ARD/IEP process. Once appointed, the surrogate parent is afforded the same rights to make educational decisions and access educational records as the natural parent(s).
Children in the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) may be appointed a surrogate parent by the overseeing judge. In this case, the LEA must ensure the surrogate parent selected complies with the same regulations in accordance with federal and state guidelines as indicated in the previous paragraph. Children placed in foster group homes and foster care homes by TDFPS may be represented by the foster parent(s) if the parents meet the criteria and complete the required training. Children placed in residential group-care facilities by TDFPS must be appointed a surrogate parent.
Once a child turns 18 years or older, the child is legally an adult and is his/her own education decision maker regardless of functioning level or type of disability. If a court determines that the individual is legally incompetent, then the court- appointed guardian is the legal decision maker.
Department Chairpersons, Program Specialists, OSES
Methods (What We Do):
At the Time of Enrollment
- Verify parental status of the individual(s) enrolling the student. The following meet the definition of a parent:
- Biological, adoptive, or foster parent (unless a foster parent is prohibited by state law from acting as a parent)
- Guardians (but not the state if the child is a ward of the state)
- Individuals acting in place of a biological or adoptive parent
- Identify students in the conservatorship of the TDFPS residing in
- Residential group-care facility(including emergency shelters)
- Foster group home or foster care home
- Relatives and other kinship caregivers
- The campus registrar should request FORM 2085FC: TDFPS Placement Authorization - Foster Care/Residential Care or FORM K-908-2085-E: Designation of Education Decision-Maker.
- Notify the Special Education department chairperson and provide a copy of Form 2085 to be placed in the student's eligibility folder.
Who Needs a Surrogate Parent
- No parent can be identified
- The public agency, even after reasonable efforts, cannot locate a parent
- The child is a ward of the State; or
- The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth
Procedure for Completing the Request for a Surrogate Parent
- Complete one form per student.
- The Special Education department chairperson completes the SharePoint RFM Data Collection and Surrogate Parent Verification Form.
- Provide any additional attachments (Form 2085) on the SharePoint site.
- Once the request is received, the RFM Data Collection and Surrogate Parent Verification form will be reviewed, and notification will be sent to the campus if a surrogate parent is required.
- The appointment of surrogate parents should occur not more than 30 days after the identification of the need for a surrogate parent.
- If a surrogate parent is needed, the OSES will assign a surrogate parent and will send the Special Education department chairperson an Appointment of a Surrogate Parent email.
- Documents are placed in the student's eligibility folder and submitted to the Office of Special Education Services through the SharePoint Foster Parent Verification Form Submission
- The campus contacts the surrogate parent.
Surrogate Parent Appointments
- Residential Group-Care Facility;
- It’s a conflict of interest for the facility to act as parent in the ARD/IEP process.
- The representative from the residential facility and/or the DFPS case worker:
- Do not have an agreement status on the IEP Team
- Provides needed information about the student’s’ background and other relevant information that may help develop the IEP
- The facility should sign as “other participant” on the IEP signature page and the surrogate parent should sign as "parent".
- Invite the facility to all ARD/IEP meetings and encourage collaboration with the assigned surrogate parent and ARD-Committee in the educational decision-making process.
- Inform the parent of any relevant information that may affect the student’s performance in school.
- Provide the Surrogate Parent with educational records, including IEP documents, report cards, progress reports, suspension notices, and information on extracurricular events and activities (if they are given to all parents).
- Keep a record of communication of interactions with the surrogate parent (Document contact on the Parent Communication Form in the Eligibility Folder).
- Foster Group Home or Foster Care Home:
- The Special Education department chairperson provides the foster parents with the Foster Parent Eligibility Form to complete.
- Unless a conflict of interest exists, the foster parent is appointed as the surrogate parent during the first 60 days of placement.
- Foster Parent Training Handout English
- Foster Parent Training Handout Spanish
- Foster Care & Student Success: Texas Systems Working Together to Transform Education Outcomes of Students in Foster Care
- The Special Education department chairperson must have the foster parents complete a Foster Parent Training Form.
- The Special Education department chairperson completes the SharePoint Foster Parent Verification Form Submission.
- Documents are placed in the student's eligibility folder.
- After 60 days and the foster parent(s) have met the criteria and required training component, the foster parent(s) officially meet the definition of parent.
- The foster parent must complete required surrogate parent training (prior to or at time of placement ARD meeting).
- Relatives and other Kinship Caregivers:
- The type of placement will determine if a surrogate parent is warranted.
- Unaccompanied Homeless Youth:
- If the student is residing with an adult willing to represent the student as parent, a surrogate parent is not warranted. Otherwise, a surrogate parent is warranted.
- If the student is an unaccompanied homeless youth:
- Contact the Houston ISD Homeless Education Office.
- Notify the campus SPED Department Chairperson
- Please email your Campus Program Specialist for a Surrogate Parent.
- If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact your campus program specialist or the OSES.