If the school has been messaging your spouse about upcoming events but hasn’t shown you the same courtesy, you’re not alone. This sort of thing is fairly common, whether you’re in a healthy, happy marriage or separated from your spouse.
However, there are a few things you can do to get more involved in your child’s school life and to help ensure the school lets you know of future activities and events.
Understand your rights
There are many laws and regulations that protect parents’ rights when it comes to their children’s education. For example, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents the right to view and alter their child’s education records.
However, a school does not have to inform each parent or legal guardian of things like upcoming events. At the same time, a school cannot legally prevent one parent or the other from attending academic events without justifiable cause. This may include unruly, dangerous or otherwise inappropriate behavior on the parent’s part.
Schools may, however, prevent a parent from entering school property during events and regular academic hours. They may also ban a parent if there is a court order in place to keep them off the school grounds.
When it comes to your rights as a parent, there are no laws against obtaining public information through observation or public knowledge. So, even if the school not contacting you makes you feel left out, you can still find out about upcoming events yourself. A family law and divorce attorney in Tuscaloosa can usually help answer any specific questions about your situation as well.
Request information directly
As mentioned, academic institutions are not required to inform both parents about school events. In many cases, schools may reach out to their main contact in the family, which may be your spouse.
This becomes a problem when both parents want to be equally involved or when one parent doesn’t relay important information to the other. This is something that occurs more commonly when the parents are divorced or legally separated.
If your child’s school doesn’t reach out to you about upcoming events, speak to them directly. Make sure they have your up-to-date contact information and are aware of your desire to be informed. As long as there is no court order specifying you cannot be involved, the school should start sending you text or email messages.
If that doesn’t work, keep an eye out for posters or bulletin boards around the school for any public information.
Join the local PTO or PTA
The PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) is a school-based organization meant to improve and strengthen schools. The PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) works in a similar way. Both groups operate at the local and national level.
If you want to get more involved, speak with the school and find out if there is a PTA or PTO you can join. They may redirect you to the president of your local organization. If the school doesn’t provide a contact number, however, check the National PTA website for your state’s PTA information.
Both the PTA and PTO are great ways to learn about things like school events and changes to academic programs. By joining one of these organizations, you will be constantly privy to updates on school activities, policy changes, information related to school funding and more.
Many school events require volunteers. While teachers or other faculty members often volunteer for these events, parents can usually join as well. By setting yourself up as a volunteer or chaperone, you can get more involved and gain knowledge about future events.
Speak with your spouse
If you and your spouse are estranged or are co-parenting, you may have to speak with them regarding your rights as a parent to your child’s education.
When there is a court order in place, the spouse with the court order has the right to make decisions regarding their child’s education. In that case, the school will likely contact that spouse first. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t gain access to basic, public information regarding school events and activities.
If things are amicable between you and your spouse, sit down with them and have a civil conversation about how you can get more involved. This may mean changing the school’s main contact information to yours, or it may mean asking your spouse to share key information with you as soon as they receive it.
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