By: Dorothy Squatrito Millar
Under IDEA, when youths reach the age of majority they become responsible for their educational program, unless they are determined to be incompetent. When considering student competence, the issue of guardianship is often raised. Guardianship is inconsistent with the recent emphasis on self-determination. This study examined guardianship practices as they relate to young adults who have developmental disabilities. Review of 221 court files found that (a) disability label, limited ability to make decisions, and youth reaching the age of majority were main reasons why petitions were filed; (b) evidence used to “prove” incompetence was unclear; (c) ward's “conditions” remained constant following the guardian appointment; and (d) guardianship did not necessarily resolve the areas of concern. Guardianship is a complex issue in need of further investigation.