In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 USC § 1415(m)) and the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) (Title 5 § 3023.1), rights given to parents under Part B of IDEA automatically transfer to a child with a disability when that child reaches the age of eighteen. This also applies to youth who are incarcerated. To comply with IDEA and the DCMR, LEA Representatives, special education teachers, case managers, and IEP team members shall adhere to the following guidelines when parental rights transfer to an adult student.
In the District of Columbia, a student shall be presumed competent to assume rights upon reaching age 18, including the rights to make all educational decisions and sign legal documents. In some instances a court may find the adult student incompetent and create a legal guardianship in which a parent or other adult is granted the power to make all decisions for the adult student. However, there are alternatives to guardianship in which family members or former guardians can make educational decisions for or support adult students in the decision-making process; even they are competent and capable of making decisions on their own.
Beginning when the student is in 9th grade, but in no cases later than the year the student will turn 16 and in all subsequent IEP meetings before the student’s 18th birthday, the LEA Representative shall:
- Inform parents and students that parental rights under IDEA Part B will transfer to the student when the student reaches age 18, unless the student has been determined, by court order, to be incompetent.
- Offer parents information on the various ways in which they continue to offer support to their adult student, including supported decision making.
- If parents express concern regarding the ability of their student to assume rights, LEA Representatives shall refer parents to the following organizations for more information:
- Review the procedural safeguards document with parents and students.
- Verify in SEDS and document in the IEP meeting notes that the transfer of rights was discussed, confirming that both the student and the parent were informed that parental rights under IDEA will transfer to the student upon reaching the age of majority.
The LEA Representative shall convene an IEP team meeting as soon as possible after the student’s 18th birthday to confirm the transfer of parental rights to the student. This meeting may be combined with the student’s annual IEP review meeting if appropriate.
At the meeting following the student’s 18th birthday, the LEA Representative shall:
- Generate a pre-transfer of rights document in SEDS under the Student/Parent Information section.
- Inform parents and students that parental rights under IDEA Part B transferred to the student on the student’s 18th birthday, unless the student has been determined incompetent or the student has executed and presented to the school for review a valid educational power of attorney.
- Discuss the rights that accrue to the student on the student’s 18th birthday, as outlined in IDEA Part B and the procedural safeguards manual (Programs & Resources Guide for Families).
- Review the “Notice of Transfer of Parental Rights” form and procedural safeguards manual with parents and students.
- Obtain signatures from the parent and student on the “Notice of Transfer of Parental Rights” form.
- At this meeting, the LEA representative should reiterate that the adult student has the option of ensuring that their parents remain informed and active in the special education process through supported decision-making. The LEA Representative must provide a copy of the consent for their parent to remain involved through the supported decision making process.
- Upload the completed “Notice of Transfer of Parental Rights” form into SEDS, verifying that both the student and the parent have been informed that parental rights under IDEA transferred to the student on the student’s 18th birthday.
- Additionally, if the adult student and their parent wish to create a supported decision-making network either at the meeting or following the meeting, both the student letter and the “Supported Decision-Making Request Form” release must be uploaded into SEDS with a miscellaneous cover sheet titled, “Supported Decision-Making Network Form”.