[author: Julie Heuberger Yura]
A father calls to inform you that his ex-wife is not permitted to pick up their son from school anymore. Up until now, the parents operated under a joint custody agreement submitted upon the student’s enrollment in the District. Mother picks the student up from school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and drops him off on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Father covers the remaining pick-up and drop-offs.
More and more, school officials are called on to determine who has the right to contact or see a student during the school day, review student records, be present at conferences and other school events and/or make special education and other decisions. It is often difficult to discuss these issues without feeling like you are picking sides or prying into family business. However, in situations like the one above, safety should be the school district’s priority. Ask to see the most current court order. Unless father can provide you with a protective or other order or agreement modifying mother’s rights, she cannot be prohibited from picking up her son.
In cases where custody is awarded solely to one parent, both the Illinois School Code and Illinois Dissolution of Marriage Act permit the other, non-custodial parent to receive copies of report cards, reports of the student’s emotional and physical health, notices of school‑initiated parent‑teacher conferences, notices of major school‑sponsored events, such as open houses, which involve student‑parent interaction, and copies of the school calendar and other items furnished by the school district to the custodial parent. However, the laws also state that where a protective order prohibits a parent from contact with the child, the parent is prohibited from accessing or inspecting the child’s school records.
Often, a non-custodial parent will ask school officials if he or she is permitted to attend school conferences. Even in cases where the other parent has sole custody, absent a protective or other order, the non-custodial parent usually has some right to participate in his or her child’s education (even though the custodial parent may have the final say in educational decisions). This is another instance where you should turn to the parenting agreement for the answer. The school should also check with custodial parent to see if he or she has any recent orders addressing this matter.