Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Oct 05
Avatar of Doug Goldberg

by Doug Goldberg

What is the age of majority?

The age in which the child will now be considered an adult and MUST receive notice of an IEP meeting, consent to an evaluation, select the participants of an IEP meeting, attend an IEP meeting and consent to the contents of an IEP. 

These rights must be explained no later than one year prior to the age of majority.  The age of majority is most commonly the 18th birthday but could be different based on the State you live in. See the chart below.

Why does the age of majority matter?

Parents are used to holding their child’s educational rights.  These rights transfer to the child when they hit the age of majority.  Often times parents feel upset and isolated when the school stops talking to them regarding their child’s IEP and start talking directly to the student.  It’s very important for the parents and their child to have a plan for when this time comes.  Make it clear to your child that you still want to be a part of the conversation and that they should never sign anything without discussing it with you first.  If the school is pressuring your child to sign any IEP documentation without you present teach them to respond this way:

“Thank you, but I don’t feel comfortable signing anything without going over the document with my parents first and having them present when I sign.”

This should diffuse the situation and allow your child time to discuss the document with you.  If your child does not have the cognitive ability to make their own decisions then the parents would need to go to court and get a conservatorship for their child.  If this is the case, talk to an attorney early becuase it is a lengthy process.

State Age of Majority
Alabama 19
Alaska 18
Arizona 18
Arkansas The later of 18 or graduation from high school
California 18
Colorado 18
Connecticut 18
Delaware 19
Florida 18
Georgia 18
Hawaii 18
Idaho 18
Illinois 18
Indiana 18
Iowa 18
Kansas 18
Kentucky 18
Louisiana 18
Maine 18
Maryland 18
Massachusetts 18
Michigan 18
Minnesota 18
Mississippi 21
Missouri 18
Montana 18
Nebraska 19
Nevada 18 or if still in high school the later of 19 or graduation
New Hampshire 18
New Jersey 18
New Mexico 18
New York 18
North Carolina 18
North Dakota 18
Ohio The earlier of 18 or graduation from high school
Oklahoma 18
Oregon 18
Pennsylvania 21
Rhode Island 18
South Carolina 18
South Dakota 18
Tennessee The later of 18 or graduation from high school
Texas 18
Utah The earlier of 18 or graduation from high school
Vermont 18
Virginia The later of 18 or graduation from high school
Washington 18
West Virginia 18
Wisconsin 18 or if still in high school the later of 19 or graduation
Wyoming 18
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22 Responses to “How the Age of Majority affects an IEP”

  1. It is my understanding that the IDEA gives the power to the states to enact a law transfering the parental rights to the child in special education proceedings at the age of 18. However, it is up to the individual states to enact a law transfering the rights. In NY, no law exists that I have found. As a result the rights do not transfer. Do you have evidence of a law in NY State transfering these rights? If so, could you please inform me. Many thanks for your assistance.

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  2. If you go onto the NY Department of Education’s website and review the Special Education regulations (Part 200) there are many references made to the Student consenting after reaching the age of 18.

    Part 200.4(a)(2)(e) for instance says “a student who is 18 years of age or older, or an emancipated minor, who is eligible to attend the public schools of the district.” may consent to evaluation for assessment for special education services.

    The Educational code also defines a minor as anyone under the age of 18.

    I hope this helps.

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  3. Great info. Quick question: My son, although verbal, is developmentally at about a 5year old level. How does this affect children who are not functionally independent enough to participate – when cognitive faculties are on the moderate to severe end of the spectrum? Do I have to apply for “guardian” status, so that I can continue to make education decisions on his behalf?

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  4. You will need to go to court and get a conservatorship to be able to make all your child’s decisions past the age of 18. I suggest talking to an attorney to help you with the process.

    If you are just worried about the IEP your child could assign his educational rights to you. Alot of school districts will accept this but since it’s not legally bidning your child has the option to withdraw this assignment at anytime they feel like it.

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  5. What my girls did was to go to an attorney and grant us Power of Attorney for educational matters – not just the IEP. They’d availed themselves of their right to have say in IEP meetings/who is on the team and the district ignored them.

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  6. So, I actually have more of a question than a comment. If a child gets off their IEP, and then the school goes behind the backs of the parents and the that child who is sixteen turning seventeen and put them on a plan, is that considered illegal?

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  7. Hi Jessica, as the parent, you hold the educational rights of your child until they reach the age of majority. This means the school MUST have your consent in order to place the child/student on an IEP. You also have the right to revoke consent at anytime putting them back into general education.

    The question I have is what is the current disagreement over? If your child was exited from his IEP why does the school now feel he should be put back on an IEP/

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  8. Where did you find the ages from the different states. How current are the ages? Will you list the source if possible?

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  9. Hi Jaime,

    There isn’t one main source. Most of them are found by looking at each State’s Educational code and Special Education Regulations.

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    • I am writing about the age of majority and I’d like to cite your page. Do you have a date? I see that the topic was posted October 5th. Was this 2010? Thanks for the speedy reply. Amazing, really.

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  10. I get an email anytime someone comments :) Yes, it was 2010.

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  11. I believe you are incorrect about New York. There is no provision specifically providing for a transfer of rights, as required by 34 CFR 300.520. Furthermore, I recently attended a presentation by Art Cernosia, at which he stated that New York is the only state which does not transfer parental rights to the student at the age of majority.

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  12. I live in California but and my son is currently receiving an AB3260 funded residential placement in Utah. He will turn 18 before he graduates High School and will be forced to leave his residential facility. His psychological issues prevent him from moving back home with his family. How do I go about finding him assistance so he can finish High School. Left on his own he most certainly would not go to school. Thanks in advance.

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    • Eric, An IEP can stay in place until the earlier of graduation or his 22nd birthday. You son will not need to leave the residential placement unless he as an adult decides to leave.

      If you don’t think he is capable of making these types of decisions you should call a lawyer and try to get a conservatorship over your sons affairs. In this way you will still have all decision making powers even after he turns 18.

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  13. The age of majority with regard to special education in Pennsylvania is 21, not 18 (as shown in your chart)

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  14. The age of majority in Pa is 18 in which all rights get transferred to their son or daughter. For Special Education purposes it is 21.
    I am not clear on what this means. If my son or daughter is a senior in high school in Pa and has their 18th birthday that year and also earns his high school diploma, a regular diploma not IEP diploma, does that mean he is considered an adult and has reached the age of majority even if he chooses to “bank ” his diploma so he can under a special education policy under an IEP receive a free post secondary education? Would my child’s father then not be obligated to continue to financially support his child as in court ordered child support if he chooses to file to terminate it ? Are parents financially obligated to support a child who has a specific learning disability under the IEP once this child is 18 and has earned their diploma but chooses to bank it to continue with Free education rights?

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    • I work with transitioning youth in PA and have been recently thrown head first into issues regarding “age of majority”.

      The age of majority only applies to educational rights, which belong to the parent or guardian until the student turns 18, or (if they have an IEP) 21. If your child has an IEP, you retain educational rights until they turn 21, and must be invited to all IEP meetings and must sign off on educational plans.

      I do not believe that in our county (Bucks) students have the option to receive a diploma and then continue with special education afterwards, although your local school district would be able to explain that process in detail. Generally a student is entitled to free high school education until age 21 or graduation.

      If your child support arrangement is linked to your child’s continuation of high school then as long as they continue to be in school under the IEP plan, you should continue to receive child support. (I believe that for youth in the foster care system, their natural parents are required to pay child support until the youth is 21, leaves care, or graduates college – regular child support rules should be similar).

      If the child support agreement is linked to a specific age, it would still end when your child turns the agreed upon age (often 18). Your county domestics office would be able to help you comb through the details of any child support arrangement.

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  15. My son just turned 18. He has not yet graduated from High School. We live in CA. What do I need to do to have Power of Attorney for decisions regarding his education. I’ve been told a California Uniform Statuary POA is not enough.

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    • I m not an attorney but my understanding I you would need a conservatorship? I would check with an attorney

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  16. Hello I am a student currently on a iep I am a couple of
    Months from being 18 the only reason I have a iep
    Is for math but I already have all the math credits
    I need to graduate I do not graduate till next year
    I no longer wish to be on my iep for I don’t need it any
    More since I no longer have math classes is there a
    Way for me at 18 to no longer have a iep? I’d so how
    Do I go about it? I live in Minnesota so the age majority
    Is 18. And for personal issues I won’t be living with my parents
    After my birthday so I would like to know my rights to
    My education before I turn 18. Thank you.

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  17. I HAVE A QUESTION: MY SON HAS NEVER HAD AN IEP, HOWEVER THE TEACHERS OVER THE YEARS KEPT TELLING ME THAT HES YOUNG HE DOESNT NEED IT, HE IS NOW 19 AND AND I HAD PUT HIM ON A K12 PROGRAM FOR HOME AND THEY WERE GOING TO TEST HIM HOWEVER THE SCHOOL GOT SHUT DOWN SO IT NEVER HAPPENNED. HE WAS HOWEVER TESTED TO SEE WHERE HIS ACADEMICS WERE AT, AND IT WAS AT A 4TH GRADE LEVEL AS OF LAST YEAR, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY SON, I AM FROM CHICAGO, NOW LIVING IN NEVADA FOR THE PAST 9 YEARS…. I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY HELP YOU CAN TELL ME..

    THANKS
    GALANNA

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How the Age of Majority affects an IEP

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