The start of the school year is upon us! Aside from organizing yourself, one big part of self advocacy for a long distance parent is to write the yearly letter to the school requesting that your rights be considered.
Did you know that it is federal law (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy act) that, unless a court specifically prohibits it, the school HAS to release information about the student to both parents? Both parents are entitled to report cards, progress reports, field trip information, parent teacher conferences etc.
At the beginning of the school year (every year), you should send a letter to the school introducing yourself and giving them any updated contact information, as well as to have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s of making a written request for records and inclusion. ENsure the following is included in your letter :
- Specifically request the type of involvement you want to spell it out for schools that might not have experience with this sort of request.
- Along with your letter, you include several SASEs so that the school does not have to consider the cost in keeping you involved, and cost does not become an excuse later.
- Include the first page of your custody agreement that includes the summary of who has what custody, case number etc. If your court order does not contain such a summary, include the pages that do contain this information.
S.P.A.R.C. : Request for records is a good sample letter and here is a sample letter to the school that includes all of these pieces :
September 3, 2004
789 Main Ave.
Somewhere, AB 12345
To Whom It May Concern:
My son/daughter, child’s name attends Kindergarten at School Name. His/her mother/father, custodial parent’s name and I are divorced and share unrestricted joint custody. Child’s name lives with his mother/father there in school’s city and I live in City, State. I remain, very much, an active part of Child’s Name every day life and I am very interested in how he does in school.
I would like to verify, first, that I am listed as his mother/father on all necessary school paperwork. My contact information is as follows :
789 Main Ave.
Somewhere, AB 12345
Cell : 555-1212
Home : 555-1212
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please, don’t hesitate to call me regarding Child’s Name, no matter the time, should questions or issues come up. With a non-emergency situation where Child’s Name may need to be picked up from school, obviously distance would keep me from being available. However, in an emergency situation, should Child’s Name need emergency medical care and need a release from a parent, I am able to give a release for his care and should be listed as the first alternate contact after his father/mother. I should also be the first alternate contact for all other behavior related or non-emergency situations where Child’s Name does not need to be sent home. The best number to reach me at is my cell phone number.
Additionally, I would like to be copied on report cards, progress reports and any correspondence sent to Child’s Name’s father/mother regarding my child’s progress, behavior or other teacher or administrative comments or concerns. I would also like to participate in all parent teacher conferences via conference call.
I understand that cost could be a concern for the school. I have included 10 SASEs, and will be happy to provide more as needed, as well as arrange to call the school at appointed conference times to absorb long distance charges.
Enclosed you will find the pertinent excerpts from the court order. I appreciate your time and look forward to working with you to ensure Child’s Name’s continued educational success!