An individual who serves as a surrogate parent for a child with a disability is appointed to act in place of a parent to make educational decisions for the child. A surrogate parent is appointed if no parent can be identified, the parent cannot be located, the child is a ward of the state or the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The appointment is made by a court or the superintendent of the school district of residence in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and the Operating Standards for Ohio’s Educational Agencies Serving Children with Disabilities.
Surrogate parents represent the child in all matters relating to his or her identification, evaluation and educational placement and in the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
The superintendent of the child’s district of residence may appoint the surrogate if all four conditions below apply. These appointed surrogates must
- Not be an employee of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), the school district or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child;
- Have no personal or professional interest that conflicts with the interest of the child the surrogate parent represents;
- Have knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child; and
- Have successfully completed training prescribed by ODE prior to acting on behalf of the child.
Please note that the requirements for a court to appoint a surrogate parent differ from the requirements that must be followed by a superintendent.