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§3.11 Child's Educational Needs

Throughout dependency proceedings, and beginning with the initial hearing, you should continually inquire about the child’s educational needs and the progress to enforce the child’s educational rights. You should ensure that the child’s needs are met for a stable school placement in the least restrictive educational environment, and that the child has access to the academic resources, services, and activities available to other students. [CRC 5.651.] You must ensure that the social worker’s report for the hearing specifically addresses, to the extent that information is available, all criteria regarding the child’s educational rights and needs listed in CRC 5.651(c).

In dependency proceedings, all educational decisions must be based on the best interests of the child. [In re Samuel G. (2009) 174 CA4th 502, 510.]

You should determine who holds the educational rights for the child at the initial hearing, and which school, if any, the child is enrolled in and attending. If you determine that the child is not attending the child’s school of origin, you should consider whether the child was not properly afforded the right to attend the school of origin. [CRC 5.651(b)(1).]

You must order each parent and guardian present to complete the form Your Child's Health and Education (form JV-225) or to provide such information to the social worker, court staff, or representative of the local child welfare agency. [CRC 5.668(c).]

Before disposition, you may temporarily limit a parent’s or current caretaker’s right to make educational decisions for the child, and if you do, you may appoint an educational representative for the child. [WIC §319(g); CRC 5.650(a)–(b).] If you appoint an educational representative, all of the educational rights of the parent or guardian, including the right to notice of educational meetings and activities, participation in educational meetings and activities, and decisionmaking authority regarding the child’s education, are transferred to the representative. [CRC 5.650(e).]

Limiting a parent’s or current caretaker’s right to make educational decisions for the child and appointing an educational representative is appropriate when you determine that all of the following considerations exist [WIC §319(g)(1)]:
  • The parent or guardian is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to exercise educational rights for the child;
  • The county placing agency has made diligent efforts to locate and secure the parent’s or guardian’s participation in educational decision making; and
  • The child’s educational needs cannot be met without the temporary appointment of a responsible adult.

In identifying the appropriate person to appoint as the educational representative, you are encouraged to consider all persons in the child’s life, including relatives, nonrelated extended family members, and persons with whom the child has an important relationship. [CRC 5.650(c).]

You must make your findings and orders limiting the right to make educational decisions for the child and appointing and educational representative on form JV-535. [CRC 5.650(b).]

If you cannot identify a responsible adult, and the appointment of a surrogate parent [see Ed C §56050(a)] is not warranted, you may make the educational decisions with input from interested persons. [WIC §319(g)(2)(3); CRC 5.650(b)]

The educational representative must receive notice of all regularly scheduled dependency hearings, and you may allow the representative to participate in the portions of such hearings that concern the child’s education. [CRC 5.650(j).]

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© 2006 by Judicial Council of California
updated as of January 1, 2012