House ready to hear bill creating new path for parents to oversee adult students with disabilities
House District 9 hopeful Allison Tant is drawing in the bulk of endorsements.

tant, allison - white shirt
The bill proposes a way for parents to stay in the loop as children with disabilities turn 18.

Legislation creating a new path for parents of children with disabilities to stay involved in their children’s education — without going through the step of legal guardianship — is advancing.

The House Education & Employment Committee unanimously agreed on a bill (HB 19) that would simplify the legal process needed for parents to stay informed after students on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) turn 18.

Students on IEPs are entitled to stay in school until they turn 22. Rep. Allison Tant proposed the bill after she discovered that she wouldn’t be entitled to stay involved in the education of her son, who has disabilities, as a matter of course after he turned 18.

She was directed to put him in a guardianship, which involves lawyers’ fees, court time and continued reporting on his status.

“This is an alternative to that, so that parents don’t have to rush to guardianship, which costs thousands of dollars, have to go to court, have to go through a training program, have to go through that process, just so that they can sign a permission slip,” Tant said.

The last segment of secondary education for these students is often the most crucial, as they will be making decisions about entering higher education, job programs and more training.

The bill would make it so that a year before turning 18, the IEP student would be fully informed about what turning 18 means and work with his or her education providers to create a channel for parents to remain informed about educational matters.

An identical bill (SB 636) in the Senate received unanimous approval on Monday in the Senate Education PreK-12 Committee.

Olivia Babis, senior public policy analyst for Disability Rights Florida, said guardianships are unnecessarily restrictive and ideally the bill would add more options.

“We know schools are pushing students into guardianship and often not informing parents they are stripping their kids of all of their rights,” she said.

“They may not be able to vote, they may not be able to get a driver’s license or an apartment. That’s a really extreme action to take just to stay involved in someone’s education.”

The bill heads to the House floor next.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • SteveHC

    March 8, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    In most cases, the already-existing (in Florida) legal status category of “Guardian Advocate” would actually be more appropriate and useful. Most students who need extended parental involvement in decision-making regarding matters pertaining to their continuing education are developmentally disabled and ALSO need continued parental involvement in many (if not most) other spheres of their child’s life as well. The bill(s) referred to in this article apply ONLY to educational matters, whereas the already-existing category of Guardian Advocate can be personalized to meet the needs of developmentally disabled children and/or adults and beyond merely the educational realm but still well short of full legal guardianship.

    • Don P.

      March 9, 2023 at 9:56 am

      That is correct. My wife and I are Guardian Advocates for our disabled daughter. No lawyers were needed, and the annual report is really basic. We’d be glad to help Tant.

Comments are closed.


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