Generally speaking, it is usually most effective to work with your ex to get copies of regular school records like report cards and standardized test scores. If that is not possible, you'll need to ask the school to provide you with access directly. Fortunately, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents the right to access their child's school records, which will allow you to stay informed of your child's progress.
In most cases, all you need to do is write the school a letter requesting access to your child's report cards, standardized test scores, and other pertinent material. You may need to show your personal ID to school officials to verify your identity, but the school should not need to see copies of your child custody agreement or a letter signed by the other parent.
Tips to Help You Get Copies of Your Kids' School Records
- If necessary, remind school officials that FERPA grants parents access to their children's school records.
- As your child's natural parent, you cannot be denied access to your child's school records unless there is a court order specifically revoking your rights to such information.
- Be aware, though, that FERPA only protects your right to academic information, which does not include things like lunch menus, field trip notification forms, or school pictures.
- The school is not required by law to make copies of your child's school records on your behalf. Generally, they will allow you to come in and view your child's records or charge you for copies and postage if documents need to be mailed.
- The school will not let you "check out" your child's school records with the promise to return the file later.
- Contact your child's teacher directly to discuss when report cards will be released so that you will know when to request copies. You may also be able to find this information on the school web site.
- If your child's school provides online access to grades and test scores, ask school officials to provide you with the appropriate access code so that you can stay informed on a regular basis.
- Make sure, as well, that your child's teacher has your email address and phone number.
- If you would like to be notified directly of any changes in your child's academic performance or behavior, make sure that your child's teacher knows this.
- Consider checking in with your child's teacher periodically through email to see how your child is doing.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your ex and your child's teacher.
- For more information, read The Rights of Noncustodial Parents in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.