Surrogate Parents

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 have afforded the opportunity for parent participation. In the event the parent(s) of a child eligible for special education services are 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 34CRF §300.519(d)(2) and comply with TEC §29.001(10) prior to representing children with disabilities in the ARD/IEP process. Once appointed, the surrogate parent is afforded all the same rights, procedural safeguards and access to 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 34CRF §300.519(d)(2) and TEC §29.001(10) 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 they 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 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.

What We Do

Surrogate Parents

A surrogate parent is a person who is appointed to 
act in the interests of a student who receives special education services and 
does not have a parent who can make educational 
decisions. The surrogate parent works with the 
school to plan the child’s special education services.  
A surrogate parent does not take care of the child at 
home, like an adoptive parent or a foster parent does.  
A surrogate parent is not financially responsible for 
the child. A surrogate parent is more like a “school
parent” — involved only in planning and making 
decisions about the child’s special education program.

The diagnostician or SLP will determine if a surrogate parent is needed based on the information provided to the registrar at time of enrollment.  
There are various types of surrogate parents; those who are 
court appointed, those who are district appointed, and foster parents who serve as surrogates for a designated time period.  Procedures are outlined below:


  • Forms are surrogate type specific and  located within the pages above (District Surrogate, Independent Foster Home, TDFPS Group Foster Home, HCS Provider)

Additional Resources