DD2 is eighteen and a senior. Her father is coming to speak at her school tomorrow. DD2 is super excited about it and he asked if he could take her out to lunch afterwords. (First time in over a year and a half they will do something alone together!) She asked if I would call her out of one of her classes so she didn't have to worry about timing and I agreed.
Legally, she isn't allowed to call herself out even though she's eighteen. The other day she was sick and I had already left for work. Although my DH is her emergency contact he wasn't allowed to call her in absent - it had to be me. And now, although her father and I share joint custody, he isn't allowed to call her out either - again, it had to be me.
It is unlikely that they would look at her records and note that she lived with me - I only know this because DH identified himself as the step parent when he called her in and they said it had to be me. DD2 asked one of her teachers because she was curious and they said that he dad couldn't call her out either because of the consequences of him possibly kidnapping her.
I understand in a younger school setting when I had to sign saying that her father could take her out of school (even though we have joint custody and settled amicably out of court 11 years ago) as a precaution, but at fifteen or eighteen?
Does anyone else know about a policy like this at their childs high school?
Are you talking about picking her up from school, or calling the school to let them know she is absent?
I would look at the school's handbook... they might have it online. I would look and see what the actual policy says. There is no reason that a parent with joint custody could not exercise the same parental rights as the other parent, regardless of the day of the week.I think the school is overstepping. At the most it should take written permission from you to allow the school to release your daughter to another adult.
Schools in general should not be in the habit of denying parents access to their children unless they have a protective order specifically saying that one parent is not to have access to the child. (Even then they should be calling the police to enforce a protective order and not be enforcing it themselves.
Calling the school to tell them she's missing a class. If you don't give them one of three responses (my child is sick, my child is visiting a college, my child has a funeral to attend) the people in the office will question you rudely. Sometimes they will ask for proof or note that your child seems to be missing the same few periods and ask why that is. (The answer of course being that she is missing her non-academic classes because she is taking all AP.) I'll be very happy when DD graduates. She drives herself to and from school, anyone could pick her up if they wanted to.
DD2 has the student handbook and it states:
Students may leave campus:
'When their parent has contacted the Attendance Office.' Then if you continue reading it says at the bottom of the page 'All students leaving the campus prior to day's end must have written permission to do so. This pertains to work study, permissions slips, non-custodial parents, .....etc.' We have joint custody but DD2 sees her dad one day a week for two hours and major holidays so technically he is considered 'non-custodial.'
I just think that the whole idea that as a teenager she cannot leave school with her parent who is not and has never been any kind of risk to her is absurd. Even when the girls were younger and custody was closer to fifty-fifty the school required a signed note from both of us at the beginning of the year and that was all.
I would challenge their interpretation of "non-custodial"-- he does, in fact, have custody, he is just not her primary residence. I would also challenge the idea, in general, that they can decide whether or not to release a child to his or her parent. Parents have a right to access to their children. Period.
I know it is probably easiest to just comply with their ridiculous ideas than to fight with them, especially since she is a senior and she's the last one to graduate. But I'm not one to let unfairness go unchallenged, so I would be the parent to argue the point with them on principle.
Unfortunately, my husband's experience - at 3 different schools in 2 states - was that schools can do whatever they want, regardless of your custodial orders or even state laws and guidelines... Unless you're willing to sue them, I suppose. But that sounds like a lot of effort, for your current situation!
In your shoes, I'd make sure I was the one to call the school, since this sounds like a pretty important lunch for your daughter. But I would follow up with a letter to the principal, explaining just what you've said here, and ask that he/she clarify to the staff what their policy is, on non-custodial parents as well as step-parents who reside with the custodial parent. The teacher who said that to your daughter could have misunderstood the school's policy. Even so, it is an unacceptably atrocious message to send a child of ANY age, that the blanket assumption about non-custodial fathers is that they are a kidnapping risk, even when there has never been a protective order or any sort of paperwork on file, to indicate that; and when a judge has seen fit to give the father joint custody! The principal should make sure no one in the staff is communicating that message to students. Or, if that IS the school's policy, you should make a stink about it!
Furthermore, as the custodial parent, you have the legal right to authorize your husband to participate in the care of your child. The school's refusal to accept his authority to call her in sick is not quite as objectionable as their concern about her father kidnapping her, but it's still unreasonable. Step-parents are by no means a new phenomenon! In fact, under certain circumstances, your daughter might spend the night at her dad's once or twice a week and if she were sick, HE would be the MORE appropriate person to call her in and - as a joint legal custodian - he would have the legal right to authorize HIS spouse to do it for him. (But that may be a lot to ask educators with no legal background, to understand.)
Kudos to you, for supporting your daughter's relationship with her father, instead of saying, "He hasn't bothered to be a parent to her for more than a year and now he wants her to skip class for him!? Over my dead body!"
Oh, don't get me started!
Some schools err on the side of assuming every NCP is a risk, reducing the chances that a NCP who shouldn't pick up his child winds up doing so. ("Oh, whoops! I just assumed it was OK for Dad to pick up. I didn't take out the kid's file and read the Protective Order!") And, even if a kid is in their teens, having them kidnapped from school by a deranged NCP is pretty undesirable, right?
I'm sure some parents with problem exes prefer it when schools treat every NCP as a threat. Not to discount the heartache for those parents (see the last part of this post), but such policies are just plain wrong. They are as wrong as refusing to hire male coaches, because a few male coaches have molested kids on their teams; or hiring only males to teach middle- and high-school, because of the Debra Lafaves of the world. Just as schools must do their due diligence in checking backgrounds before they hire and promptly following up on reports of any problems with teachers they DO hire; schools ALSO should not be lazy, in dealing with parents. When a specific CP notifies the school of a problem with the NCP:
#1- The school should require some sort of substantiation. And they should ACTUALLY READ any substantiation provided. It is no shock that some divorced parents wrongly try to discredit their exes, keep them away from school events, keep them from picking up their kids from school for parenting time, etc. And just because a CP produces a Restraining Order doesn't mean the NCP is barred from coming to school or being around the child. Some Restraining Orders simply prohibit either warring ex from contacting the other, outside legal representation. Or, if a court order has pages missing, you should ask questions! (Yes, personal experience.) In short, a school ought to require more than just the CP's word that the NCP is a threat.
#2- If a CP does provide reasonable proof that a NCP can't take the child from school, the school - and, quite frankly, the CP - should ensure that EVERY teacher, school secretary, nurse, librarian, coach and after-school-care supervisor knows the situation with that particular child. That child should be the exception, whom teachers are warned to look out for and protect. Every other NCP in the school should not be treated as a threat, just because THAT student's NCP is one!
~~And if the CP never even asks the school to be wary of the NCP~~ (as in your case) the school should treat the NCP with the same respect as any other parent and not involve themselves in their divorce and parenting time arrangements!
If Mom gets stuck at the office and asks Dad to pick up the kid from school on a day when he doesn't normally do that (and she could not have anticipated, that morning, the need to send a hand-written permission slip for her ex to pick up the kid), then the school should graciously send the child with Dad, who is, after all, the child's PARENT. Especially when the court recognizes both parents as having EQUAL legal, parental rights, regardless how the child's time is divided between them. Schools should NOT have policies that "help" divorced parents govern or regulate their time or relationships with their children, unless they're asked to help AND the Court supports the type of help a parent requests!
So many, many kids have divorced parents and so many of those kids already have to deal with one or both parents bad-mouthing the other. The last thing those kids need - or ANY kids, even from intact homes, need - is to get accustomed to - take it for granted that - trusted authority figures (teachers, principals) consider non-custodial fathers a danger to their children unless proven otherwise. I...HATE...THAT!
And I put my money where my mouth is. My husband has sole custody of his almost-12-year-old son, whom I have helped raise full-time since he was 8. So, I'm quite attached. DH's ex-wife has moved out of state and is difficult, to say the least. Without going into all the background, it would not shock anyone if she tried to "go underground" with DSS. Her own attorney felt compelled to warn the court about that, when DH got custody. Nevertheless, she hasn't made any attempts yet; there are no court orders saying she's a danger to the child; and the whole purpose of DH getting custody was to make it EASIER for DSS to have quality relationships with BOTH parents. So, if DH started warning school officials of his concerns about his ex and setting up "safety nets" to offset a potential kidnapping attempt, he would be doing the same kind of crap that she - quite unfairly - did to him, when she had custody.
A while ago, right after DH's ex had been in town for a weekend visit (and had presumably flown home, but of course we don't check to see whether she actually boards the plane...), DSS and a friend decided to skip an after-school Math Bowl practice. (Evidently, it's embarrassing to be a mathlete...right up until your team wins the whole competition!) He and his friend hung out in the Art room with the after-school-care kids, instead. When I arrived to pick him up, I learned he never showed up for Math Bowl, nor signed in for after-school-care (since he was "on the lam"). Basically, none of the people who should have known where he was, the last hour and a half, DID know (including DH and me). I thought I was going to have a heart attack! Did his Mom stay in town and take him? Should we call the police? But I consciously refrained from mentioning those fears, while his principal, the after-school-care director and I made a quick search (and found him in the Art room). After all, once you tell people you think someone might be a kidnapper, you can't get that thought back out of their heads. And, regardless what I think of DSS's Mom, it's not in his best interest for me to make his teachers and principal think badly of her.
And I wouldn't want DSS's school to treat all NCPs like potential criminals, for MY peace of mind, hoping to thwart DSS's Mom, on the off-chance she tries to abscond with him!
Wow, it never occurred to me that an 18 year old would not be allowed to sign him or herself out of school. I wonder how that can be legal? It sounds like it could be unlawful detention.
Anetta, earthmama in the City Wife and best friend to DH , SAHM to our little princess Leda and furbabies Hans and Heidi
Happily expecting a pair of "oops!" twins in October!
Wow have times changed! When I was a Sr. I could sign myself out. Depending on why there was consequences. lol But I left after I found out my BF at the time, father had died, and all my teachers knew exactly why and didn't bat an eye about it.
Also, when in high school... no one checked who was picking us up or not or whatever. Sometimes I left on my own to go to work, sometimes I went to a friend's house, sometimes I rode the bus home, sometimes I walked to a nearby restrauant with friends... on and on... the school never questioned my where abouts when I left school and I certianly never needed permission slips in high school. Wow... that's troubling that they have that much control over "kids" that will be completely on their own at college the next year... geez.
Proud Single Mama, Birth & Postpartum Doula
Student, Aspiring CNM
DD ~ 1/7/09 DS ~ 9/22/10
To add to Jeanine's post, even if the school has a protective order on file, the school should not be the ones enforcing a protective order. The school should make sure everyone is aware of it and if that parent shows up, they should call the police and let them enforce the order. The school can certainly stall for time, and should have a safety plan in place for such situations, but NO school employee (short of the school resource officer) should be expected to bear the responsibility of enforcing a protective order.
Jeannine - the horrible irony about the 'kidnapping' statement was the teacher that DD2 asked about being called out teaches the schools law class in which her father (a lawyer) was coming to speak to. DD2 did correct her the next day about the kidnapping statement - she cited that her dad had never been a threat, and if he had been why the heck would she bring him to school with her? She also noted the terrible offensiveness of the comment (especially, as the father of four children with one of the other side of the country and the other two under the age of ten, kidnapping one kid and fleeing is unlikely in her opinion.) DD2's teacher apologized and that was the end of it.
Neither DD has ever had to be called out by a different parent before (for the record their father lives an hour away so the chance of them ever staying the night there and then going to school the next day is incredible slim). With six weeks left until graduation I'm going to let it go. I called her out myself and she had a great time with her dad - came home just glowing about it.
To clarify about the leaving school idea - after 2:50 when school ends DD2 can do whatever she wants with whomever. During her lunch hour she is allowed to leave campus with whomever. She has the latest lunch though, so I called her out of an earlier class so that her dad could get back to work sooner and wasn't wandering around for two hours with nothing to do.
The idea behind legal adults not being able to call themselves out is that they will simply leave for classes they don't want to go to. (In Illinois however one can drop out at sixteen so the whole system is just really odd here.) Some kids do this anyway while others pretend to be parents. If a call is 'suspicious' the phone number will get called back and the child has the possibility of a Saturday detention. One of DD's friends did this one to retrieve a project (with parental approval) and still got a detention. We still have to sign permission slips for our children to watch 'R' rated movies. Basically the school is afraid of getting sued and everything is a liability.