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Custody issues and schools

At the beginning of each school year front office staff and administrators must deal with tough situations involving custody disputes. One parent may assert that the other parent cannot pick their child up or that the child’s name should be changed in the student records. 

School staff are put in the middle of these domestic disputes, so what can you do?

  1. Ask for legal documentation to support a parent’s assertion. Check to make sure it is a signed court order issued by an Oregon court, not just a document their attorney has submitted to the court.
  2. Ask the parent to help you find the section that applies to the situation before you.
  3. If it isn’t clear, call your attorney. You should not have to make a legal interpretation.
  4. If there are no court documents, ask the parents to work out the situation and get back to you. You should not have to make the decision for them.  

What does custodian or noncustodial mean?

The term “custodial parent” can refer to either the living situation of the child and/or the parent with the decision-making power.  A “noncustodial parent” may refer to a parent with whom the child does not live and/or the parent that does not have decision-making authority regarding the child.    

Who has access to a student’s education records? Who can consult with school staff about their child’s progress?

Generally, both parents have access to this information unless there is a court order restricting a parent’s access.  It is important to note that a noncustodial parent  as defined above does not automatically mean that the parent does not have decision making authority or a right to access records.

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