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Education Decision-Making & Transfer of Rights

Special Education Decision-Making for Students Age 18 and Older

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a child with a disability who has reached the age 18 is presumed to be competent, and all rights under IDEA and local law governing the delivery of special education and related services transfer to the student, unless one of the exceptions is met:

  1. The student is declared a legally incapacitated individual, by a court of competent jurisdiction and a legal guardian or representative has been appointed by the court to make decisions for the student, including educational decisions.
  2. The student has designated by power of attorney or similar legal document another adult to be the student’s agent to:
    1. Make educational decisions;
    2. Receive notices; and
    3. Participate in meetings and all other procedures related to the student’s educational program.
  3. The student has been determined to not have the ability to provide informed consent regarding educational decisions and another adult has been appointed by OSSE to represent the educational interests of the student.

Supported Decision-Making

Any student who has reached age 18 and to whom all rights have transferred may voluntarily choose to receive support from his or her parents, family members, or other willing adults to aid the student with educational decision-making. Supported decision-making is supports, services, and accommodations that help a student with disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), who has reached age 18 and to whom all IDEA rights have transferred, make his or her own decisions, by using adult friends, family members, professionals, and other people he or she trusts to help understand the issues and choices, ask questions, receive explanations in language he or she understands, and communicate his or her own decisions to others. LEAs are encouraged to use the following model form to document supported decision-making decisions or create an alternative process for meeting the documentation requirements described in Title 5-E, Section 3034 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR).

Appointment of an Educational Representative for a Student Who Has Reached Age 18

The Special Education Procedural Protections Expansion Act of 2014, effective March 10, 2015 (D.C. Law 20-194, D.C. Official Code § 38-2573.01) (2012 Repl. & 2016 Supp.)), required OSSE to establish a procedure to appoint an adult to represent the educational interest of a student who has reached age 18 and has been determined to not have the ability to provide informed consent regarding educational decisions. Regulations establishing this procedure became effective on July 1, 2016.

This process is specific to educational rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will not appoint an educational representative until the all of the following documents are submitted:

  1. A completed Request for Appointment of an Educational Representative signed by the parent or legal guardian of the student or signed by another interested adult seeking to be appointed; and 
  1. Two signed professional certifications that meet all of the requirements of Title 5-E, Section 3035 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR). 

The use of the following Request for Appointment Educational Representative Appointment form is required.  The use of the Professional Certification of Inability to Make Educational Decisions Model Form is not required, but any alternative certification submitted must meet all of the professional certification requirements for the transfer of educational rights under Title 5-E, Sections 3034 through 3036 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR).


Related Content: Elementary, Secondary & Specialized Education (ESSE)