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A Checklist for Parents- getting the school to comply with the School Records Access Law

Produced by Massachusetts legal services' Domestic Violence and School Safety Workgroup
Created April, 2007

When a court order has issued that denies an abusive parent's access to your child's school records, this Checklist can help you work with school departments, administrators, principals, and staff.

This Checklist contains some practical things that you can do to work effectively with your child's school.The practical suggestions in this Checklist are based on laws that have been passed to protect survivors of domestic violence and children affected by domestic violence from further abuse.

For Questions and Answers, see Who Can Get School Records.

If you have an order that specifically says that the other parent is not allowed to see or have your child’s school records, meet with the principal, show him or her the order,  and talk about each of the terms of the order.

If you have the kind of custody order that means that the other parent is not allowed to have access to your child’s school records, meet with the principal, show him or her the order, and talk about each of the terms of the order and why the custody order means that the other parent is not allowed to have access to the school records.

The kind of custody order that means that the other parent is not allowed to have access to school records is one that

  • denies the other parent the right to visit the child; or
  • denies "legal custody" to the other parent and says that the other parent is denied legal custody because of a threat to the safety of the child and the threat is specifically noted in the custody visitation order; or
  • only allows “supervised visitation” because of a threat to the safety of the child and the threat is specifically noted in the supervised visitation order.

If you receive a notice that the other parent has asked for the school records, and you do not want the records released, and you have a court order that the other parent is not allowed to see the records, show the court order to the principal right away.

Be sure that you and the principal understand and agree about what each term means and what effect it has on whether the other parent has access to school records.   If you and the principal do not agree, get legal advice.

Ask the principal to 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 other parent.

Be sure that you and the principal understand and agree about the expiration date of the order, if any.

Talk to the principal about your plans concerning extending the order when it is set to expire, if it makes sense to do that.

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

Have a conversation with the principal about whether there is any school records information which you want made available to the other parent, and how that information might be made available, safely.

Talk to school personnel who have regular or frequent contact with you or your child available about the terms of any custody order or order concerning school records.

Look at the records to be sure that all direct and indirect information about where you and the child live or where you work is removed from records each time they are provided to the non-custodial parent.

Give the principal documents, such as letters from your attorney, which indicate that the other parent’s access to the student’s record is limited or restricted. Ask that such documents or letters be placed in the school records.

Review the school’s “directory information” about your child with the principal, and tell the principal if there is “directory information” which should not be released without your consent. Be sure that the principal honors your request not to release “directory information.”

Remind the principal to mark all records provided to a non-custodial parent that the records shall not be used to enroll the student in another school.

Remind the principal to notify you in writing if the other parent asks for the school records.

If you want the school to notify you in your first language if the other parent asks for the school records, tell the principal what your first language is and that you want to notified in writing in that language and in English.

Who to call for help

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