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(9.26) How long should an appointed surrogate parent serve?

(9.26) How long should an appointed surrogate parent serve?

The surrogate parent may represent the student until she no longer needs special education or turns 18; until another responsible adult is appointed to replace the surrogate parent; or, the parent’s right to make educational decisions is restored. [Cal. Gov. Code Sec. 7579.5(k).] However, if at age 18, a student chooses not to begin making her own educational decisions or a court finds her to be “incompetent” to make these decisions, the surrogate parent may remain in place or the student could designate another adult as an educational representative. The district must replace a surrogate parent if she is not properly performing the duties or has a conflict of interest with the student. [Cal. Gov. Code Secs. 7579.5(h) & (i).]

If some individual in the student’s life — such as a care facility operator, social worker, probation officer, foster parent or other advocate — believes that a surrogate parent is not acting in the student’s interest, but rather acting more in the interests of the school district or another agency serving the student; he may ask that the district appoint a different surrogate parent. If the district refuses, the law allows a student (who is a ward or dependent of the court, an emancipated minor, or for whom no parent can be identified or located) to file for due process to challenge the appropriateness of the surrogate parent. However, the student can file only after an Administrative Law Judge determines that the district has either not appointed a surrogate parent or has appointed one who has a conflict of interest. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56501(a).]