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Policy of the Calgary Board of Education relating to access to records.

Calgary Board of Education

Custody Issues

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 student'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

The school requires a current true copy of the order governing the custody/access of a registered student to be kept on the child's file at school. This does not mean that the school or the CBE are in the position of enforcing that order. The School Act requires us to have a copy of the order so that we can clearly identify who has legal access and consequently who is entitled to review the student record. It is the custodial parent's responsibility to see that the school has the most recent order governing the custody/access of the student. If you refuse to provide the school with a copy of an existing custody order, the school will be at liberty to deal with both parents equally.

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 can receive instructions from. This parent is the one who makes any and all decisions ranging from educational programming to who can pick the child up from school. All consent forms must be signed by the sole custodial parent. The school or CBE will not report to the custodial parent requests for information or interviews by the access parent.

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. An access parent cannot visit the child at school. An access parent may volunteer at the school provided they have the written permission of the custodial parent and they meet the requirements of Calgary Board of Education policy #3085 on volunteers.

Joint Custody: Most joint custodial orders include a phrase like "with day to day care and control to (one parent or the other). In the event of a dispute between the parents or a situation where the parents cannot agree on a course of action, the school and the CBE will accept instructions from the parent who has day to day care and control.

Where the order does not have the day to day phrase, the school is at 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 situation as it 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 rare event where it is not possible or not in the best interests of the student, in the opinion of the Principal, for the existing situation to be maintained and the parents cannot agree and are not willing or able to take the issue back to court, the Principal in conjunction with the CLC Director will make the decision in the best educational interests of the child.

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. The no access parent is not entitled to attend parent/teacher interviews or any school function. The CBE will not act contrary to the terms of the current order on file notwithstanding the custodial parent's consent.

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 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. The school will not inform either parent of a request from the other parent.

Parent/Teacher Interviews

Both the custodial parent and the access parent may bring a third party (i.e. step-parent, relative, or friend) with them to the parent/teacher interview. Neither the custodial parent nor the access parent has any authority to refuse the other parent's desire to have a third party attend. The parent should be present at the interview and should not merely send a third party in their place. Parents should be aware that:

(a) normally, the school cannot accept instructions from a third party;

(b) the school reserves the right to refuse admittance and/or access to any person who is or has been abusive or uncooperative;

(c) the school reserves the right to limit the number of persons attending an interview or receiving information;

For the purposes of Parent/Teacher conferences, teachers will be mindful of the topics they wish to discuss with the parents. If the topics are of a sensitive nature (i.e. counseling, psychiatric reports or assessments, etc.) the teacher will advise the parent(s) that they may wish to consider meeting

(a) without the child present; and/or

(b) in a private meeting room; and/or

(c) without the third party (if applicable) present.

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.

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 "mom 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. The only exception to this is where the custodial parent has given permission or a court order specifically states that an access parent may have lunch with the child on school days - the school will not accept a schedule of days the access parent may or may not have lunch with the child. The permission is simply that they can or cannot have lunch with the child;

The school will not take children out of classes to visit or speak on the telephone with access parents nor will they ever provide supervised access.

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.