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October 4th, 2021

Volunteer as an Educational Surrogate Parent for a Student with Disabilities

Caring individuals always make a difference in the lives of CMCSS students. The district is actively seeking community members who are able to represent the educational interests of students with disabilities.

All children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under state and federal special education laws. Included in these laws is a mandate for the parents of children with disabilities to have the opportunity to actively participate in the educational decision-making process. Some children with disabilities may not have parents who can fulfill this very important role, leaving their educational planning solely to representatives from their local school system or other agencies. Federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and state rules, regulations and minimum standards require that an individual must be appointed to make decisions regarding the education students with disabilities must receive.

What is a surrogate parent?

A surrogate parent is a volunteer who is appointed by a local education agency to assist children who do not have parents or family members. The surrogate parent has all of the rights and can make all of the special education or early intervention decisions that are usually made by the child’s parents. Surrogate parents can review educational records; request and consent to evaluations and reevaluations; and challenge the recommendations of the education or early intervention agency by requesting informal and formal dispute resolution procedures. A surrogate parent does not have any rights and responsibilities for the child outside of the special education process.

When does a child require a surrogate parent?

A child with a disability requires a surrogate when:

  1. the parent (as defined in § 300.519) or guardian cannot be identified;
  2. the LEA, after reasonable efforts, cannot discover the whereabouts of a parent;
  3. the child is a ward of the State; or
  4. the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section 725 (6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(6).

What are the responsibilities of a surrogate parent?

The surrogate parent acts as a substitute parent and is given the responsibility of determining the child’s educational experiences. A surrogate parent is not responsible for any financial costs or direct care of the child with disabilities. The surrogate parent represents the child in every step of the education process including identification, evaluation, and educational placement. The Surrogate Parent fulfills the parent role at all Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Team meetings and works to ensure that the child receives FAPE. A surrogate parent is also responsible for keeping confidential all information from the child’s educational, medical, or social services records.

Who can be a surrogate?

Any citizen of the United States of permanent resident who is at least 18 years old and has no conflict of interest concerning the child’s education may serve as an educational surrogate and must be of good moral character. The educational surrogate must act in the best interest of the student he/she represents. Furthermore, an educational surrogate may not be an employee of a public agency providing care, custody, or educational services to the specific child in need of educational surrogate representation.

How much time and money will this commitment take?

Surrogate parents are required to devote approximately three hours to the training provided by Clarksville Montgomery County Schools at least annually. After a student with disabilities is assigned, the educational surrogate reviews the student’s record well enough to understand the student’s needs, strengths, interests as well as their school history. Training is provided free of charge.

If you are interested in attending a training to become a surrogate parent, please email [email protected].


Child Nutrition Department June 9th, 2021

No Cost Curbside Meals for Summer 2021

The USDA approved for CMCSS to continue serving free curbside meal pick-up to all children 18 and under. The USDA stated that these free meals will be available through June 2022, or until funds run out.

Meals are available for all children 18 and under in Montgomery County, including children not enrolled in CMCSS schools.

Curbside meals will be available for pick-up at any of the traditional high school locations on Wednesday, each week, from 10:00 – 11:00 am. Families with multiple children can pick up all meals in one location. 

Children are not required to be present for curbside pick-up. The person picking up meals will need to provide the name of the child(ren) not present.


October 23rd, 2020

CMCSS K-12 Virtual Teacher Named News Channel 2 Educator of the Week

After 23 years as an educator, Crystal McCoin, a third grade STEM teacher at Oakland Elementary, is trying something new – virtual teaching. Hundreds of CMCSS teachers are navigating the new world of CMCSS K-12 Virtual. For Ms. McCoin, she finds joy in teaching and watching her students’ excitement about learning.

“I have been teaching a long time and thought I had seen everything, but have definitely had to step out of my comfort zone,” she explains. “I am always willing to try new things to see if something works better and to help the students learn.”

This sentiment rings true for many virtual educators today. Educators are experts at creative thinking and our virtual teachers continue to rise to the challenge of engaging their students. From puppets to playing games, teachers at all levels aren’t afraid to try new things.

Everyone understands that trying something different is crucial to maintaining a relationship with students. McCoin says the biggest difference with virtual learning is you have to work harder to build relationships with students. During her Zoom instruction time, her eyes are continuously scanning the faces for anyone who may be distracted. Phrases that would be typical to any classroom setting such as, ‘are you okay’, ‘show me your pencils’, ‘let’s sit up tall’ are now mixed in with the newest repetitive phrase for teachers ‘make sure you’re on mute.’

Ms. McCoin does not miss any opportunity to share a smile or encouraging word, because she knows the importance of building a relationship. “You get to see a little of their personalities but not as you do in the classroom setting,” she said. She admits that there are times virtual may be a struggle but teachers should look to the opportunities as well, “I feel like we get so much more accomplished during small group time online.” However, she’s confident her students can excel in the virtual classroom.

Engaged parents and learning mentors are key to the success of virtual students. “Help your child be accountable,” she urged families. “Check and make sure they are completing the work and make sure you stay in contact with the teacher.”

Each grade level, and school, have adapted their instruction schedules to best fit the students’ needs. The average virtual teacher spends the first half of the day in live instruction. The rest of the day includes individual meetings, grading, and responding to emails.

“If you have questions, reach out to your teacher,” says Erin Hedrick, CMCSS K-12 Virtual administrator. “You can always reach out to the school as well.” While technology issues plagued the beginning of the year, CMCSS K-12 Virtual has hit its stride and continues to improve. “We always want constructive feedback from families. We’re all committed to student success; we share a common goal.”

Back in the classroom, McCoin takes on any challenge with a bright smile and positive energy moving through an online math lesson. Ms. McCoin’s passion for teaching will continue to make a lasting impact on her students, long after the lesson has ended. Her continued efforts have earned her recognition as the News Channel 2 Educator of the Week.


October 9th, 2020

CMCSS K-12 Virtual Teacher Named News Channel 2 Educator of the Week

After 23 years as an educator, Crystal McCoin, a third grade STEM teacher at Oakland Elementary, is trying something new – virtual teaching. Hundreds of CMCSS teachers are navigating the new world of CMCSS K-12 Virtual. For Ms. McCoin, she finds joy in teaching and watching her students’ excitement about learning.

“I have been teaching a long time and thought I had seen everything, but have definitely had to step out of my comfort zone,” she explains. “I am always willing to try new things to see if something works better and to help the students learn.”

This sentiment rings true for many virtual educators today. Educators are experts at creative thinking and our virtual teachers continue to rise to the challenge of engaging their students. From puppets to playing games, teachers at all levels aren’t afraid to try new things.

Everyone understands that trying something different is crucial to maintaining a relationship with students. McCoin says the biggest difference with virtual learning is you have to work harder to build relationships with students. During her Zoom instruction time, her eyes are continuously scanning the faces for anyone who may be distracted. Phrases that would be typical to any classroom setting such as, ‘are you okay’, ‘show me your pencils’, ‘let’s sit up tall’ are now mixed in with the newest repetitive phrase for teachers ‘make sure you’re on mute.’

Ms. McCoin does not miss any opportunity to share a smile or encouraging word, because she knows the importance of building a relationship. “You get to see a little of their personalities but not as you do in the classroom setting,” she said. She admits that there are times virtual may be a struggle but teachers should look to the opportunities as well, “I feel like we get so much more accomplished during small group time online.” However, she’s confident her students can excel in the virtual classroom.

Engaged parents and learning mentors are key to the success of virtual students. “Help your child be accountable,” she urged families. “Check and make sure they are completing the work and make sure you stay in contact with the teacher.”

Each grade level, and school, have adapted their instruction schedules to best fit the students’ needs. The average virtual teacher spends the first half of the day in live instruction. The rest of the day includes individual meetings, grading, and responding to emails.

“If you have questions, reach out to your teacher,” says Erin Hedrick, CMCSS K-12 Virtual administrator. “You can always reach out to the school as well.” While technology issues plagued the beginning of the year, CMCSS K-12 Virtual has hit its stride and continues to improve. “We always want constructive feedback from families. We’re all committed to student success; we share a common goal.”

Back in the classroom, McCoin takes on any challenge with a bright smile and positive energy moving through an online math lesson. Ms. McCoin’s passion for teaching will continue to make a lasting impact on her students, long after the lesson has ended. Her continued efforts have earned her recognition as the News Channel 2 Educator of the Week.