What happens when a student with an IEP is no longer a minor and disagrees with their parents about their educational needs? The answer is that it depends on whether the student and his or her parents have prepared for this milestone. In Massachusetts, the age of majority is 18 years of age. This means that for students with IEPs, under state law, they will be able to assume full control over all decision-making related to their educations when they turn 18 unless:
(a) the student’s parent has obtained legal guardianship over the student in court;
(b) the student chooses to share decision-making authority with his or her parent or other willing adult (under this scenario, a parent cannot override a student’s decision without court involvement); or
(c) the student chooses to delegate all decision-making authority to his or her parent, or other willing adult.
Under federal law, school districts in Massachusetts are required to inform students when they turn 17 about their age of majority rights, and to document that all students have received such notice in their IEPs. If a student chooses to share or delegate their decision-making authority to their parent, then the student will need to document this decision in front of one representative from the school district and one witness.
It is very important for parents to be aware of the fact that they will no longer hold any educational decision-making authority when their child turns 18, unless they have obtained guardianship or their child has voluntarily agreed to share or delegate this authority. Bottom line: be sure to think about this issue and discuss it with your child before they turn 18.
Want to read more?
- To review the federal IDEA regulation pertaining to age of majority, please click here.
- To read the state regulation concerning age of majority, please click here.
- To see an advisory from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education about this issue, please click here.