SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 52
March 12, 1999
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Requesting Local Divisions to Review Policies to Facilitate and Promote the Participation of Parents: House Joint Resolution 237 (1|
I would like to bring to your attention House Joint Resolution 237 that was adopted by the 1998 Session of the Virginia General Assembly. Please see the attached copy. This resolution requests the Department of Education and the Board of Education to issue a communication asking school divisions to ensure that local school policies facilitate and promote the participation of parents in the education of their children. By way of this Superintendent's Memo, the department is requesting that your school division carefully review its policies related to parental involvement, especially the policies related to the involvement of noncustodial parents in the education of their children. The intent of this resolution was to address specifically those policies related to the rights of noncustodial parents. Section 22.1-279.5 of the Code of Virginia states the following: 22.1-279.5 Participation in certain school activities by noncustodial parent. Unless a court order has been issued to the contrary, the noncustodial parent of a student enrolled in a public school or day care center shall not be denied the opportunity to participate in any of the student's school or day care activities in which such participation is supported or encouraged by the policies of the school or day care center solely on the basis of such noncustodial status. For the purposes of this section, "school or day care activities" shall include, but shall not be limited to, lunch breaks, special in-school programs, parent-teacher conferences and meetings, and extracurricular activities. It is the responsibility of the custodial parent to provide the court order to the school or day care center. In addition to the Virginia law, the Virginia Board of Education issued Guidelines for the Management of Student's Scholastic Record in Virginia Public Schools (September 1995). The guidelines contain helpful information regarding the rights of parents, including noncustodial parents, to inspect and review their children's educational records. The guidelines (page 17) specify that " . . . In the absence of a court order to the contrary, all parents, even those not having custody of their children, have the right to see their child's education record." This guideline is based on the rights of noncustodial parents as set forth in the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which states: 99.4 What are the rights of parents? An educational agency or institution shall give full rights under the Act to either parent, unless the agency or institution has been provided with evidence that there is a court order, State statute, or legally binding document relating to such matters as divorce, separation, or custody that specifically revokes these rights. Additional information on FERPA requirements and other helpful documents are contained in the Board of Education's guidelines on student records management. These guidelines have recently been revised by the department and will be distributed to all division superintendents in the very near future. Please review your local policies regarding the rights of noncustodial parents to ensure that such policies are consistent with the state and federal law and regulations. You may want to consult your school board attorney for assistance in this matter. In addition, the Virginia School Boards Association has model policies related to parental involvement available through its policy services program. If you have questions about House Joint Resolution 237, please call Diane T. Atkinson, Assistant Superintendent of Policy and Public Affairs, at 804/225-2403. PDS:mnr Attachment: A hard copy of this memo and its attach- ment will be sent to the superintendent's office.