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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Parental consent (Sec. 300.300)

Comment: A few commenters noted that the terms, "consent," "informed consent," "agree," and "agree in writing" are used throughout the regulations and stated that differences between the terms should be clarified. One commenter recommended that the regulations include the term "informed" every time the term "parental consent" is used.

Discussion: The use of these terms throughout the regulations is consistent with their use in the Act. The definition of consent in Sec. 300.9 includes the requirement that a parent be fully informed of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought. The definition also requires that a parent agree in writing to carrying out the activity for which the parent's consent is sought. Therefore, whenever the term "consent" is used in these regulations, it means that the consent is both "informed" and "written." Similarly, the terms "consent," "informed consent," "parental consent," and "written informed consent," as used in these regulations, all are intended to have the same meaning.

The meaning of the terms "agree" or "agreement" is not the same as "consent." "Agree" or "agreement" refer to an understanding between the parent and the LEA about a particular question or issue. There is no requirement that an agreement be in writing unless specifically stated in the Act and regulations.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended that the regulations clarify what the required safeguards are if parents elect to receive notices electronically or provide electronic or digital signatures for consents, such as consent for an initial evaluation.

Discussion: Section 300.505, consistent with section 615(n) of the Act, permits parents to elect to receive prior written notices, procedural safeguards notices, and due process complaint notices by an electronic mail communication, if the public agency makes that option available. The Act does not specify documentation requirements if the public agency makes the electronic notice delivery option available to parents, and we believe that this is a matter that is best left to States and LEAs that choose to use the electronic communication option.

In addition, States that wish to utilize electronic or digital signatures for consent may do so if they choose. Consent under Sec. 300.9(b) requires a parent to understand and agree in writing to the carrying out of the activity for which the parent's consent is sought. Therefore, States that permit the use of electronic or digital signatures for parental consent would need to take the necessary steps to ensure that there are appropriate safeguards to protect the integrity of the process.

Changes: None.