Educational Surrogate Parent Program

  • An engaged adult is critical to protecting the educational rights of every child, but most especially for a child with a disability. However, some students do not have an adult to look after their educational interests. It is the Local Education Agency's responsibility to provide someone to act in this capacity for a student with special needs. The DCIU Educational Surrogate Program helps the student's LEA fulfill this obligation.


    What does an educational surrogate parent do?

    Like other "parents" under the IDEA, an educational surrogate parent has the right to make all the special education decisions that are usually made by the child's biological or adoptive parents. Educational surrogate parents can review educational records, consent to evaluations, re-evaluations, and placements, request and participate in IEP meetings, and challenge the recommendations by asking for mediation or requesting a hearing.


    Requirements for Requesting a Surrogate Parent

    The LEA can request a surrogate parent only after they have documented that:

    • No parent, as defined in 34 CFR §300.30, can be identified;
    • The LEA, after reasonable efforts, cannot locate a parent;
    • The child is a ward of the state under the laws of the State (Pennsylvania does not have a state law definition of “ward of state” so this provision does not apply in Pennsylvania);
    • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth, as defined in section 725(6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434(a)(6))LEA representative must submit


    Forms & More Information

    Pennsylvania Department of Education Surrogate Parent Guidelines for IDEA-Eligible or Thought-to-Be Eligible Students (PDF)

    Educational Surrogate Parent Request Form (PDF)