The surrogate parent is appointed to serve as the educational representative for the student who is suspected of having, or has been determined to have a disability when a school cannot identify or with reasonable efforts cannot locate someone who qualifies as a “parent” in accordance with Virginia Regulations. This appointment is made under certain conditions with certain qualifications required.
State and federal regulations require the surrogate parent to represent the student in all matters relating to:
- The identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the student.
- The provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for the student.
When Must A Surrogate Parent Be Appointed For A Student?
A surrogate parent must be appointed for a student, ages 2 through 21, inclusive, who is suspected of being or determined to be disabled when:
- No parent can be identified.
- After reasonable efforts, the whereabouts of a parent cannot be identified.
- A student has reached the age of majority and the student is not competent to provide informed consent and no family member is available to serve as the student's educational representative.
- A student is a ward of the state or an unaccompanied homeless youth and no parent can be identified or after reasonable efforts, the whereabouts of a parent cannot be identified.
How Is A Surrogate Parent Selected For Appointment?
The school division maintains a list of individuals who have volunteered to serve in this capacity and who are qualified to serve as surrogate parents in the Parent Support and Information Center.
Following state and federal guidelines, the Director of Special Education or his designee appoints surrogate parent(s) as required.
What Are The Qualifications Of A Surrogate Parent?
A person shall be determined as qualified to serve as a surrogate by the Director of Special Education or a designee. Qualification requirements include and adult who:
- Has no interest that conflicts with the interest of the student.
- Has knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the student.
- Is not an employee of the Virginia Department of Education, the local educational agency, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child.
- Is of the age of majority.
A person who is an employee of the Virginia Department of Education, or any other agency which is involved in the education or care of the student, may not be appointed surrogates. This includes the departments of social services.
How Can You Become A Surrogate Parent?
Persons who are interested in serving the division's students with disabilities should contact the Parent Support and Information Center 757.263.2066 for further information.