The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) requires that children with disabilities who do not have parents to advocate for them in the special education process be given a surrogate parent to make decisions about special education issues. According to Disability Rights Ohio, a surrogate parent "acts in the place of a child's natural parent to make decisions about the child's education when the child's natural parent is unavailable to make decisions. A parent is unavailable when he or she cannot be located or when he or she chooses not to act as a parent for the child. A parent is also unavailable if he or she has lost the ability to act as parent by court order.
The surrogate parent makes decisions for a child with a disability in all matters relating to the identification, evaluation and educational placement of the child and the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child. For a young child receiving Early Intervention services, a surrogate makes decisions for the child in all matters relating to the provision of Early Intervention services."
Who is eligible to act as a Surrogate Parent?
A person who:
- Is not an employee of the ODE, the school district, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child;
- Has no personal or professional interest that conflict with the child’s interests;
- Has knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child; and
- Has successfully completed training prescribed by ODE.
To access Ohio's Surrogate Parent Training Online Course, by visiting the Surrogate Parent Training webpage.