Teachers’ Responsibilities, Code of Ethics – Child Custody
All schools within the Diocese of Belleville will honor all current orders, decrees, or instructions pertaining to custody situations. It is the responsibility of adults having custody of a student to submit to the school a certified and/or file stamped copy of the most recent order or decree.
In sole custody situations, the custodial parent has the right to determine the child’s education unless the custody decree provides otherwise. When parents share joint legal custody, neither parent’s rights are superior with regard to determining the child’s education unless otherwise specified by the court or parents in the final judgment or order.
Both parents, custodial and noncustodial, have equal access to the school records of their children unless the school has received a copy of a certified and/or file stamped court order or decree indicating otherwise.
The school will not act merely on the desires of one parent to prevent the other parent from seeing the student.
Noncustodial parents will not be permitted to use the schools to contact their children, unless an emergency exists.
School personnel are not permitted to produce school documentation and/or testify in court-related custody proceedings relating to a student absent a subpoena requiring such production and/or testimony. The principal, Diocesan Human Resources Director, or the Director of the Office of Education must be immediately informed of the receipt of any subpoena prior to any response and/or testimony being provided.
School personnel are dissuaded from providing letters of support of one parent for use in custody proceedings in their individual capacities. If, however, a school employee does elect to provide such a letter, the employee must state clearly that it is the employee’s personal opinion and not that of her/his employer. Such individual non-school related letters may never be placed on school letterhead or in any way indicate that it is representative of the school’s opinions. Any information in such a non-school related letter must be truthful and accurate.
This policy is intended to address custody issues between divorced, separated or unmarried parents/guardian that may arise at school. The policy is designed to protect both the safety of the student and the rights of parents. It also seeks to avoid placing the school in the middle of custody disputes. It is not possible to address or anticipate all circumstances regarding custody issues that may arise related to a student. School personnel should rely on common sense, good judgment and the best interests of the student when implementing this policy in any particular situation and any questions must be directed to the Principal or the Director of the Office of Education.
Adopted: March 15, 2016
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton
Bishop of Belleville