COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 52
March 12, 1999

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
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.