As a parent, you have the right to get school records on behalf of your kids. This includes their report cards, standardized test scores, and any disciplinary records on file. When your kids live with you every day, these documents are usually sent to you directly or come home in your kids' backpacks. But for non-custodial parents and those who share custody, getting school records like these may not be as easy.
In fact, you may need to formally ask for copies, either from your ex or from the school. I call this 'the easy way' and 'the hard way.' Let's explore both ways to get school records.
How to Get School Records the Easy Way
The easiest way to get copies of your kids' school records is to communicate your request to your ex. You're probably already in contact on a regular basis. (And if you're not, consider rebuilding trust and communication with your ex before you do anything else.) If your ex denies your request or claims that it will be too difficult to make copies and keep you in the loop, then you'll need to move on to next step: contacting the school.
How to Get School Records the Hard Way
Don't worry if you have to go this route because it's really not that difficult. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents the right to access their children'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 records. 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 for Requesting 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 website.
- 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. This will make communicating with your child's teacher must easier.
- 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.