Answer: The mother retains her rights under IDEA even while the daughter is living somewhere else and they are not in touch. Unless a court intervenes to restrict the mother’s rights (which is extremely unlikely at this point), she remains the mother legally. If the school/district were to give IDEA rights to the grandmother or surrogate parent in the situation as you have described it, the district could be at risk of an administrative complaint or even lawsuit from the mother. Once the student turns 18, the rights transfer to her. Also, if after a reasonable period of time the mother is not responsive to the school’s requests to contact her regarding the student’s IEP, it could become appropriate for the school to appoint a surrogate parent. More details about this issue are available in Surrogate Parents And Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Under The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
A homeless unaccompanied youth who receives special education services is residing with her grandmother. The parent does not want the grandmother to make any educational decisions, but the school does not think the parent is the best decision maker, since she has no communication at all with the student. I want to make sure we are following the student and parental rights as outlined in McKinney-Vento as well as the IDEA.
Mar 24, 2017 | Q and A