SCHOOL AND DIVORCE FAQ's
How does a school district determine residency
in a divorce?
Article 14 of the School Code directly addresses divorced or separated parents by stating that in cases of divorced or separated parents ...when both parents retain legal guardianship or custody, the resident district is the district in which either parent who provides the student’s primary regular fixed night-time abode resides, provided that the election may be made only one time per school year. If the student is a special education student and the student spends more nights with one parent, the student’s residency is the district in which that parent lives.
Tip: It is recommended that the Allocation Judgment/Parenting Plan designate a resident parent for school district purposes. That designation is simply for the purpose of school residency and does not impact decision making, parenting time or other parental rights.
Are both parents entitled to receive notices from the school and access
to the student’s educational records?
If the school has been provided a copy of a parenting plan or other court order, the school must first consult the parenting plan or order to see if each parent’s right of access to educational records has been addressed. The School Code provides that absent a court order to the contrary, upon the request of either parent of a student whose parents are divorced, copies of report cards, along with other notices and records, must be furnished to both parents by the school.
Unless the District has actual notice of a court order or a notice of a parenting plan under the Ill. Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, indicating otherwise:
- Divorced or separated parents/guardians with and without parental responsibility are both permitted to inspect and copy the student’s school records. 750 ILCS 5/602.11.
- The Building Principal shall send copies of the documents listed below to both divorced or separated parents/guardians at either’s request. 105 ILCS 5/10-21.8.
- Academic progress reports or records
- Emotional and physical health reports
- Notice of school-initiated-parent-teacher-conferences
- School calendar regarding the student
- Notices about open-houses, graduations, and other major school-sponsored events including student-parent-guardian interaction.
This is consistent with other provisions of the IMDMA, which states that notwithstanding any other provision of law, access to records and information pertaining to a child including, but not limited to, medical, dental, child care, and school records shall not be denied to a parent for the reason that such parent has not been allocated parental responsibility; however, no parent shall have access to the school records of a child if the parent is prohibited by an order of protection from inspecting or obtaining such records pursuant to the Domestic Violence Act of 1986 or the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Are both parents able to grant permission for a student to be excused from school (i.e.due to illness, religious observance, college visits etc.) participate in school-sponsored activities (i.e. field trips, athletics, extra-curricular activities etc. or for particular school services (i.e. medication administration, special education)?
If the school has been provided a copy of the parenting plan, then first consult the parenting plan to see if granting permissions has been allocated to one or both parents as a significant decision-making responsibility. The IMDMA defines significant issues to include without limitation:
Education, including the choice of schools and tutors.
- Health, including all decisions relating to the medical, dental, and psychological needs of the child and to the treatments arising or resulting from those needs.
- Extracurricular activities