Parents' Rights

A brief summary of procedural safeguards for students with disabilities receiving special education services1

Parents of children with disabilities from ages three through twenty-one have specific educational rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These rights are called procedural safeguards. Individuals serving as surrogate parents and students aged eighteen receiving special education services, are also entitled to these rights.

A number of staff in the child’s district and special education local plan area (SELPA) may answer questions about the child’s education and the parents' rights and responsibilities. When the parent has a concern, it is important that they contact their child’s teachers or administrators to talk about their child and any problems they see. This conversation often solves the problem and helps maintain open communication.

Parents must be given opportunities to participate in any decision-making meeting regarding their child’s special education program. Parents have the right to participate in individualized education program (IEP) meetings about the special education eligibility, assessment, educational placement of their child and other matters relating to their child’s free appropriate public education (FAPE).

When a parent cannot be identified or located, a district may appoint a surrogate parent to represent a child with a disability.

What Are Parents' Rights in California Special Education?

Parents, legal guardians, and surrogate parents of children with disabilities from 3 years of age through age 21 and students who have reached age 18, the age of majority, are granted, by law, 
educational rights or procedural safeguards. They are as follows:

  • To participate;
  • To receive prior written notice;
  • To consent;
  • To refuse consent;
  • To be given a nondiscriminatory assessment;
  • To receive independent assessments;
  • To access educational records;
  • To stay in the current program if there is a disagreement about placement;
  • To be given a hearing regarding disagreements about an IEP;
  • To receive mediation;
  • To file a complaint against your school district;
  • To be informed of school discipline and alternative placement; and
  • To be informed of policies regarding children who attend private schools.

What is the Notice of Procedural Safeguards?

The Notice of Procedural Safeguards is required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and must be provided to you:

• When you ask for a copy
• The first time your child is referred for a special education assessment
• Each time you are given an assessment plan to evaluate your child
• Upon receipt of the first state or due process complaint in a school year, and
• When the decision is made to make a removal that constitutes a change of placement

(20 United States Code [USC] Section 1415[d]; 34 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Section 300.504; California Education Code [EC] Section 56301[d] [2], EC Section 56321, and EC Section 56341.1[g] [1])

The Notice of Procedural Safeguards (Form T21-822) provided by the California Department of Education is an informational notice that provides an overview of the above safeguards.

Notice of Procedural Safeguards in English
Aviso de garantías procesales en español

Parents' Rights, California Department of Education,

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