Saturday, January 29, 2011

Right to Access Child's School Records - Indiana

In a time of persistent high unemployment, rising taxes and government spending cut mandates the last thing we need is for schools to waste money on attorneys. So, in an effort to reduce school spending waste I bring to you a clear and exact explanation of the right to access school records by non-custodial parents.

Indiana Code 20-33-7 governs access to a child's school records. Section 2 of that chapter provides as follows;

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a nonpublic or public school must allow a custodial parent and a noncustodial parent of a child the same access to their child's education records.
    (b) A nonpublic or public school may not allow a noncustodial parent access to the child's education records if:
        (1) a court has issued an order that limits the noncustodial parent's access to the child's education records; and
        (2) the school has received a copy of the court order or has actual knowledge of the court order.
As added by P.L.1-2005, SEC.17.

There is additional requirements placed upon parents through application of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. Section I Part D begins with this commentary;

A child may suffer inconvenience, embarrassment, and physical or emotional harm when parents fail to actively obtain and share information. Parents should take the initiative to obtain information about their child from the various providers of services.

Here is the rule for school records with commentary
Each parent shall promptly provide the other with copies of a child’s grade reports and notices from school as they are received. A parent shall not interfere with the right of the other parent to communicate directly with school personnel concerning a child.
Under Indiana law, both parents are entitled to direct access to their child’s school records, Indiana Code ' 20-33-7-2.

There should be no difficulty in understanding this law. It is clear and simple. If you are a parent, whose parental rights have not been terminated or restricted by a court, then you are entitled to direct access to your child’s school records.

Reviewing courts have held that it is not the responsibility of school administrators to have to search judicial decrees and orders to determine a parent's standing. By implication it is the responsibility of the custodial parent to be the protector of the child's records by notifying the school if the child's natural parent has had his or her parental rights terminated or limited by a court order. Absent such a designation in the child's records, which all schools should have a system for establishing this, there should be no resistance to supplying the records when requested.

School administrators, especially those getting paid over $100,000 per year should not need to consult a school attorney for clarification of this law. It's the equivalent of a store manager calling a locksmith to tell him how to unlock the front door to let customers in.

Yet it just happened this past week in Anderson, Indiana. There a father trying to protect his children from abuse by the mother sought a document from the child's school records but was initially denied. Mother had requested that the father not be able to access the document. After a delay of over a day the school contacted its legal counsel and then released the record to the father.

If you encounter any resistance from school administrators when making a request for access to your child's records it is likely because they are trying to hide something. Request a copy of your child's entire file.

Additional records not a part of your child's individual file may be obtain through a request made pursuant to Indiana's Access to Public Records Act, I.C. 5-14-3 et seq.

Using a copy of this blawg posting when making a records request could save you time and your school corporation legal fees.

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©2008, 2011 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

1 comment:

Maurice Davis said...

I thank you for the information given. I am dealing with a disgruntle Mother who refuses me any information concerning the child. The child has reached the legal age for termination of the support order. She states the child is attending school, but a few month prior, she said he registered in the Armed Forces. I don't know what, or who to believe, then when I call to ask for the name of the school she hangs up. We have a schedule court date in Nov. she's asking to re-instate the support order with an increase. This is totally wrong! Why should I have to pay extra if the child registers for school but does not attend. This is highway robbery. Thank you once again for this vital piece of information.