Exceptional Student Education and Services
Monroe County School District Secondary Transition Resources
Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Programs
Educational Advocates: A Guide for Parents
McKay Scholarship Program
Florida's school choice programs allow parents to choose the best educational setting—public or private—for their child. The McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities provides over 31,000 Florida students with special needs the opportunity to attend a participating private school during the 2021-2022 school year. The McKay Scholarship Program also offers parents public school choice. A parent of an eligible special needs student may choose to transfer the student to another public school. For additional information, visit the Florida School Choice website or call the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice at 1-800-447-1636 for full details.
What is a Surrogate Parent?
A Surrogate Parent acts as an educational advocate for a child who requires Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services. The position requires making informed decisions about the child's educational needs, attending meetings, and monitoring programs, much like a parent or guardian would. It is an important responsibility. The Surrogate Parent will receive free, appropriate training to act in the place of the natural parent or guardian.
Which students need a Surrogate Parent?
A child is in need of a Surrogate Parent when the child's parent, after diligent inquiry, remains unknown, or the child is a ward of the state or the court, or the whereabouts of a parent cannot be discovered, and when the child is an exceptional student, or is suspected of being an exceptional student. The school district is responsible for appointing a Surrogate Parent to act in place of the parent in the special education decision-making process.
Who can be a Surrogate Parent?
The minimum qualifications for becoming a Surrogate Parent are:
- Must be a citizen of the United States, a resident of the state of Florida, and above the age of 18.
- Must not be employed by the Monroe County School District (MCSD) or the Department of Children and Families.
- Must have knowledge, skills and experience through successfully completing free Surrogate Parent training, provided by MCSD/FDLRS-South.
- Must have time to become involved in the educational program of the child and must have no interests which conflict with the interest of the child whom he/she represents.
Surrogate parents are needed to safeguard the rights of exceptional students. Free training provided by Monroe County School District and/or Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System - South. Contact the ESE Department for additional information: 305-293-1400 x 53378 and ask for Surrogate Parent information
For more information, review the Florida Department of Education: Technical Assistance Paper (TAP) on Surrogate Parents -2012