Educational Decision-Making – Overview

IDEA states that students who reach 18 are presumed to be competent adults (able to make their own decisions) except when:

  • Parents have been declared legal guardians by a judge,
  • The student is admitted to a facility by a judge’s written order,
  • The parent or another adult has become the educational representative through the school division,
  • The parent or another adult has power of attorney to make educational decisions.


Beginning at least one year before the student turns 18, the student’s IEP must include a statement that the student and parents have been informed that IDEA rights will transfer to the student when they reach age 18. The IEP team must go over that statement with the parents and the student and be sure they understand it.

This transfer of rights includes the right to consent (agree) to evaluation, reevaluation, placement, attend IEP meetings with or without their parents, and drop out of school if they choose.

If your child needs support for educational decisions, there are three choices: educational power of attorney, educational representative, and guardianship. We will review guardianship in the “Decision-Making Options” section of the Guide.

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