P.O. BOX 2120



March 22, 2002



Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Involvement of Non-Custodial Parents


Parental involvement is fundamental to our childrens education. Unfortunately, for many non-custodial parents, their ability to be involved is limited by perceptions on the part of school staff regarding their rights.


As specified by both the Code of Virginia and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), non-custodial parents have the full rights as parents for access to student records. The Code of Virginia specifies: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, neither parent, regardless of whether such parent has custody, shall be denied access to the academic, medical, hospital or other health records of that parents minor child unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause shown (20-124.6). FERPA states: 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(99.4).


Special education regulations specify that for special education purposes, the term parent means either parent, unless the local educational agency has been provided with evidence that there is a legally binding instrument, state law, or court order that has terminated the parents or parents rights (8 VAC 20-80-10.) Therefore, non-custodial parents whose parental rights have not been terminated are entitled to all parent rights and responsibilities available under special education.




To ensure that divisions do not deny the rights of non-custodial parents, school personnel should presume that the non-custodial parent has the right to access records unless they see evidence (as specified in FERPA) to the contrary.


School officials should consult with both custodial and non-custodial parents on educational matters involving their child. Divisions are encouraged to review their policies, procedures, and forms to determine if these facilitate the involvement of non-custodial parents. These may include policies regarding communication with parents and notifying parents of their parental rights for special education and forms requesting data on the students parents.


Please contact Lissa Power-deFur at 804-225-2818 or for further information.