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Restricted Access to School Records

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Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

In order to learn and develop, all children need to feel safe and be
safe at school. This is especially true for children who have
suffered from the effects of domestic violence.

Restricting
abusive parents' access to school records can provide crucial help for
children and their non-abusive parent, at home and at school.
Lawfully restricted access can can keep an abusive parent from finding
out wherer the child and the non-abusive parent live and where the
non-abusive parent works. Lawfully restricted access can keep
abusive parents from undermining the child's education.

Access to school records can only be restricted by court order.

Most
"non-custodial" parents are legally entitled to access to their child's
school records.& Being a "non-custodial" parent does not mean that
the parent is a bad parent. All parents, with a few exceptions,
are entitled to access to their children's records whether or not they
have custody.

Some abusive parents, even those who are under a
restraining order not to contact the other parent (as opposed to the
child) are legally entitled to access to school records unless a court
order specifically says that they are not.

There is much that
school officials, administrators, teachers, and other staff can do to
make schools safe for children, including children affected by domestic
violence, as well as for non-abusive parents. They can learn
about whether and how the school is supposed to provide school records
access for individual parents. They can work with parents to
understand the effect of each order on parental access to school
records. They can adopt strategies to insure compliance with
Massachusetts' school records access law.

Massachusetts legal services' Domestic Violence and School Safety Workgroup have produced some information about how the school records access law can help keep children be safe and improve their educational opportunities and also about what schools can do to comply with the law.

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

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