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Legal Rights for Students with Disabilities Turning 18
IDEA Transfer of Rights



The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations (Code of Federal Regulations) include guidelines for informing students with disabilities of their legal rights as adults when they reach the age of majority.  (See "Legal Guide for New Adults Turning 18" in the A-Z Library for an overview of Florida adult rights and responsibilities.)

A Florida Department of Education Memorandum dated April 1, 2005, provides guidance to school districts on the transfer of rights at the age of majority. It is based on Section 300.517 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Rule 6A-6.03311 of the Florida Administrative Code, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Sections 393.12, 743.07, and 744 of the Florida Statutes.

An outline of the key points of the Memorandum follows:

  • On or before the student’s 17th birthday, the student must be informed of the rights that will transfer on his or her 18th birthday. The Individual Educational Plan (IEP) must document that the student was informed at the appropriate IEP meeting.
  • A notice regarding the transfer of rights must be provided to student and parent closer to the time of the student's 18th birthday.
  • The district must continue to provide notices required by IDEA to both student and parent after the student’s 18th birthday.
  • There is no right to IDEA notices for parents of students 18 years or older who are incarcerated in a juvenile facility or county jail.
  • Legal rights, including those in IDEA, do not transfer to a student deemed incompetent by the court but rather are retained by the person appointed as legal guardian.
  • Educational records may be disclosed to parents of dependent students as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.
  • If the parent and student disagree over a course of action, conflict resolution assistance or mediation should be offered. 
  • Districts should work with both parent and student if there are concerns about the student’s ability to participate in educational decision-making.

The full memorandum, including a sample form for the notice of transfer of rights may be downloaded at

Some students with disabilities may need assistance with making adult decisions. Florida law provides a number of decision-making options including banking services, power of attorney, representative payee, advance directives, medical proxy, trust, guardian advocacy, and guardianship (Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, 2010, p. 19).  See the resources section below for more information. 


Guardian Advocate Information and Forms
This webpage from Florida’s Ninth Circuit Court (for Orange and Osceola counties) contains information and forms for obtaining legal guardianship for a person with a developmental disability (intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, or Prader-Willi syndrome) who “lacks the decision-making ability to make necessary decisions relating to daily life.” The guardianship process should be similar in other counties.

Lighting the Way to Guardianship and Other Decision-Making Alternatives: A Manual for Individuals and Families
This manual was jointly developed by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Guardian Pooled Trust, Office of Public Guardian, Inc., Statewide Public Guardianship Office, and the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc., to increase the knowledge of individuals with disabilities and their families about decision-making options available in Florida.  


Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. (2010). Lighting the way to guardianship and other decision-making alternatives: A manual for individuals and families. Tallahassee, FL: Author. Available at

Lockman, B.J. (2005, April 1). Transfer of rights – Age of majority. (Memorandum). Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education. Available at



The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).

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