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Custody Issues

Calgary Board of Education

The purpose of this bulletin is to inform you of the Calgary Board of Education's (CBE) position with respect to custody issues.

This bulletin is not for the purpose of providing parents with legal advice.

School is a Positive Environment for Teaching and Learning

The CBE has a policy of neutrality. Quite simply this means that in every and all situations where there may be a custody dispute between the child's parents; the teachers, the staff, the schools, and the CBE will remain neutral at all times. CBE staff are not permitted to provide letters of opinion or support or to be interviewed by lawyers, parents, or other professionals pertaining to a custody dispute. Nor are they permitted to voluntarily testify for or against one parent or the other or in fact as a neutral party.

Legal Documents

As you have no doubt been advised by your child's school, we require a current certified copy of the order governing the custody of your child to be kept on your child's file at school. This does not mean that the school or the CBE are in the position of enforcing that order. The purpose of having the order is so that the school can clearly identify who has legal custody of the child. It is the custodial parent's responsibility to see that the school has the most recent order governing the custody of the child.

The following are terms which may be in the Order dealing with your child's custody arrangement and the CBE's interpretation of them as they apply to your child's education.

 Sole custody: This means that the parent who is awarded sole custody of the child regardless of access terms to the other parent, is the only parent the school or the CBE will deal with regarding the child. This parent is the one who makes any and all decisions ranging from educational programming to who can pick the child up from school.

Access: An access parent (regardless of the terms of that access) is entitled to receive copies of report cards, view the student file and may attend parent/teacher interviews at the invitation of the sole custodial parent or separately if the school where the child attends is willing to accommodate separate interviews. An access parent cannot visit the child at school.

Joint Custody: Most joint custodial orders include a phrase like "with day to day care and control to (one parent or the other). For school purposes the school and the CBE will only deal with the parent who has day to day care and control unless it is specifically put on the record that we may deal with both parents. The other parent will be treated in the same manner as an access parent unless otherwise specified. Where the order does not have this phrase, the school will be all liberty to deal with both parents of the child. In the event of a dispute between the parents, the school cannot be an intermediary and the status quo that exists prior to the dispute shall continue until one or the other parent obtains a court order to the contrary or an agreement is reached between the parents. These matters will have to be addressed by each parent's lawyer and the school cannot be involved with respect to mediation of the issue. In the event of divided, split or shared custody, the same rules as above will apply. It is up to the parents to ensure that the person whom we will be taking instructions from is specifically designated with the principal.

No Access: If a parent has been denied access to the child by court order, that parent will not receive any information from the CBE about the child.

No Court Documentation: In the situation where parents are recently separated and/or no court documentation is in place, the school shall defer to the parent with whom the child lives for the majority of time. The other parent will be considered to be an access parent.

 Unmarried Parents: In the case of unmarried parents where no court documentation is in place, the school shall defer to the parent with whom the child lives for the majority of time. The other parent will be considered to be an access parent.

Information about Students

The CBE is under new legislation called The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) which protects student information. This means that for the safety of your child, information regarding your child will not routinely be given over the telephone to anyone, including the custodial parent.

The custodial parent cannot unilaterally decide whether or not the other parent has access to their child's school information. Only a court order clearly stating no access will prohibit the school from providing an access parent with their child's school information.

Parent/Teacher Interviews

Under the School Act, only the parent is entitled to information regarding the student. This means that for Parent/Teacher interviews, information regarding the student will only be provided to the parent of the child. Stepparents, relatives, or friends of the parent can not attend the Parent/Teacher interviews.

It will be at the discretion of the Principal and teacher of your child's school whether or not separate interviews will be accommodated for separated and divorced parents. In the case of joint, shared, divided or split custody, if the school can not accommodate separate interviews, one interview time will be set and communicated to both parents. It will be up to the parents to decide who will attend or attend together. In the case of a sole custodial parent, by court order, it is the parent with sole custody who has the right to attend the interview, the other parent may attend at the sole custodial parent's invitation.

Access to Children at School

As we are sure everyone can appreciate, education is our primary concern. It is impractical and unfair to expect teachers, administrators and staff to adjudicate, interpret and enforce every custody order that they receive from the parents in their community. Therefore, the school will not accept schedules of "morn days" and "dad days". It is the custodial parent's responsibility to inform the school of who may or may not pick up the child from school at any time. It is an issue between the parents of the child which days each may do so; the school will not be involved in this arrangement.

You may not use the school as a neutral pick up or drop off place for your children to facilitate access.

An access parent may not visit with the child at school.

Security of Children

Every reasonable effort will be made by the school to protect all of the children who attend there. The CBE cannot undertake any further responsibilities with respect to individual children. If you have extraordinary concerns regarding the safety of your child, please discuss them with the Principal of your child's school and best reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate your concern.