Surrogate Parents

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) gives parents an active role in planning their children's educational programs, monitoring progress, and challenging inappropriate decisions.  Though the role of advocate for a child is usually filled by parents, the laws allow for a surrogate parent to act in this role if the parents or other family members of a child with a disability are unknown or completely unavailable, if the child is a ward of the state, if the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth, or if the parent requests in writing that a surrogate parent be appointed for their child. In some cases, a foster parent may serve as the parent and no surrogate parent need be appointed.

Surrogate parents fulfill an important role in the life of a child with a disability.  Like parents, surrogates of children with disabilities are granted a significant decision-making role and are involved at every step of the special education process.  The absence of a parent can deny a child’s access to appropriate identification, evaluation, placement, and provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Surrogate Parent Responsibilities

A surrogate parent is only responsible for representing the child when decisions about his or her special education program are made concerning: (IDEA §300.519)

  • Identification of the need for the child to receive special education services
  • Evaluation to determine his or her individual needs
  • Design of his or her Individualized Education Program (IEP), including placement
  • Ongoing reviews of educational progress
  • Agreement or disagreement with the school district's educational proposals

For more information about surrogate parenting in Michigan, check out Michigan Alliance for Families at External Link

If you are  interested in serving as a surrogate parent for a student with an IEP within the MOISD, please inquire with Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Services, Christy Miller about training and service opportunities at External or 231-796-3543.