Yes. A foster parent may act as a parent for special education purposes for a child in their care if these conditions exist:
- The biological or adoptive parent’s authority to make educational decisions for the child have been taken away by a court; and
- The foster parent has no interest that would conflict with the interests of the child.
If acting as a parent, a foster parent has all the rights a biological or adoptive parent would have in the special education process, including the ability to initiate a referral for special education eligibility of their foster child and sign the IEP for a student. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.30(a)(2); Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 56028(a)(2), 56055 & 56029(c).]
Foster parents may also be appointed by a school district or court to be a “surrogate parent” to exercise educational rights for a child within their care. When selecting a surrogate parent, school districts must give first preference to the foster parent, a relative caretaker, or court-appointed special advocate (CASA). [Cal. Gov. Code Secs. 7579.5(b).]