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What Schools Can Do to Deal with Restraining Orders - A Checklist for School Officials

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Produced by Massachusetts legal services' Domestic Violence and School Safety Workgroup
Created December, 2006

This Checklist is designed to help school departments, administrators, and staff deal with restraining orders issued to protect a student or the student’s parent so as to keep them and their non-abusive parent safe on school grounds and in school buildings, rooms, and offices. The Checklist contains a number of practical things that schools can do to let the community and their students know the school cares about making sure all children have a safe place to learn. The practical suggestions in this Checklist are based on laws enacted to protect survivors of domestic violence from further abuse.

Send a form letter to all parents

Describe how the school is committed to helping traumatized children learn, that domestic violence can traumatize children.

Say that where there is a restraining order protecting the child or parent, the school invites the protected parent or parent of the protected child to bring a copy of the order and a photo of the parent subject to the order to the school principal and to meet with the principal.

Say what “directory information” contains and that it can be released without a parent’s consent unless the parent notifies the school not to release the information without his or her consent.

Collaborate with parents who have restraining orders and help them meet the safety needs of themselves and their children

Meet with a parent who has a restraining order and review each of the terms of the order with the parent so that the meaning of each term is mutually understood.

Place a copy of the order in the student’s school record.

Provide copies of the order to key school personnel who may have contact with the abusive parent.

Note the expiration date of the order.

Have a conversation with the parent about whether she has any particular safety-related requirements for methods of communication between school personnel and her.

Have a conversation with the parent about her plans concerning extending the order when it is set to expire.

Have a conversation with the parent about how, within the terms of the order, the school can best support the order being obeyed.

Discuss with the parent whether and how school personnel should communicate with her about violations of the order.

Discuss and implement a secure means for communicating the information developed in these conversations to key school personnel.

Make school personnel who have regular or frequent contact with the parent or child available to the parent, at the parent’s request, to discuss the terms of the restraining order and the parent’s and child’s safety needs.

Develop and implement a policy whereby key school personnel inform the principal

if a student or the student’s parent has a restraining order.

if they are contacted by the abusive parent

if they observe the abusive parent in or near the school

Develop and implement a policy whereby, at the parent’s request, a dated note is placed in the student’s record indicating that the parent wishes to be informed if the abusive parent contacts the school or comes into or near the school.

Review the school “directory information” with the parent, inform the parent that the “directory information” can be released without her prior consent, offer her the opportunity to request that the information not be released without her prior consent, and honor requests not to release “directory information.”

Honor a parent’s request not to release directory information.

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