Surrogate Parents and Guardian Ad Litem
SURROGATE & FOSTER PARENT RESOURCES
Texas Education Code (TEC) §25.007 (b)(9)
For a student who is in foster care, the LEA must provide notice to the student’s educational decision-maker (this may be different than his/her foster parent/parent or surrogate parent) and his/her caseworker regarding events that may significantly impact the student’s education.
This includes (but is not necessarily exclusive to):
- Requests or referrals for an evaluation under Section 504 or special education;
- ARD committee meetings;
- Manifestation determination reviews (MDRs);
- Any disciplinary actions for which parental notice is required;
- Citations issued for a Class C misdemeanor offenses on school property or at school-sponsored events; and
- Reports of restraint and seclusion.
Note: This is separate from all foster/surrogate parent requirements above and is not a special education exclusive requirement; it applies to ALL students in foster care.
A surrogate or foster parent may be needed to represent a student with a disability during the special education process as outlined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).
In cases where the child has no parent(s), none can be located, or the child is a ward of the state, a surrogate parent must be appointed to make educational decisions on behalf of the child and to protect the child’s rights in matters relating to identification, evaluation, and placement in special education.
To serve as a surrogate or foster parent of a student receiving special education services, an individual must meet several criteria, one of which is to complete a training that has been identified to meet the minimal standards established by the Texas Education Agency. You may contact the school district or regional education service center for an in-person presentation or view the online module on this website.
Surrogate Parent Interactive Decision Making Flowchart (from Region 20 ESC)
Guardian Ad Litem Resources
The Texas Family Code defines “guardian ad litem” as “a person appointed to represent the best interests of a child. The term includes: (A) a volunteer advocate from a charitable organization described by the court as the child’s guardian ad litem; (B) a professional, other than an attorney, who holds a relevant professional license and whose training relates to the determination of a child's best interests; (C) an adult having the competence, training, and expertise determined by the court to be sufficient to represent the best interests of the child; or (D) an attorney ad litem appointed to serve in the dual role.”
The GAL court appointment entitles CASA volunteers to have access to all records regarding the child’s situation, including medical, therapeutic, educational and other pertinent records. These records are vital to help paint a picture of what the child needs and helps the CASA volunteer to figure out how best to advocate for children in the courtroom. The main goal of CASA volunteers is to help children reach safe and permanent homes. The GAL advocates for children’s medical, therapeutic, and educational needs so that the child can have the best possible future.
**The most cited case regarding best interest is the Texas Supreme Court's 1976 decision Holley v. Adams. The Court wrote that certain factors to consider in ascertaining the best interest of a child include the following:
- the desires of the child
- the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future
- the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future
- the parenting abilities of the individuals seeking custody
- the programs available to assist those individuals to promote the best interest of the child
- the plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody
- the stability of the home or proposed placement
- the acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one
- any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent
If you are a surrogate parent or Guardian Ad Litem and are in need of records or plan to attend a meeting with your assigned child, please contact:
Kat Murphy Elizabeth Sterling
Social Worker Special Education Director
512-982-1649 (videophone) 512-462-5782 (voice)