Child Custody Issues

Under the compulsory attendance laws, parents must send their children to school.  School personnel have an obligation to exercise due care in guarding the health, safety, and welfare of students enrolled in our schools.  All officials, employees and authorized agents of the public schools whose responsibilities include supervision of students shall have comprehensive authority within constitutional bounds to maintain order and discipline in school.  This authority applies whenever students are lawfully subject to the schools’ control, regardless of place.  During such periods, public school authorities shall have the right to supervise and control the conduct of students, and students shall have the duty to submit to the schools’ authority.  Children must not be released to persons who are not their parents/legal guardians or have not been designated by their parent/legal guardian.

Definitions

  1. “Court Order” – official proclamation by a judge that defines the legal relationships between the parties to a court proceeding.  For purposes of this procedural directive “court order” specifically refers to custody/time sharing of minor children and temporary/permanent restraining orders
  2. “Custody Agreement” – custody/time sharing mutually agreed on by both parents.  Document must be dated, and both parents’ signatures must be notarized
  3. “Physical Custody” – the parent with whom a child lives the majority of the time
  4. “Educational Rights” – right to access a child’s educational records, e.g. report cards, transcripts, contact with teachers

Custodial Rights of Parents

In the absence of a certified court order/custody agreement limiting or terminating the rights of a parent or appointed guardian, such persons shall be assumed to have all legal rights pertaining to parenthood with respect to access to a student’s educational records and participation in school activities relating to the student.  In the event a parent or guardian claims that the other parent’s rights have been limited or terminated at the time a student is enrolled or while attending a district school as an enrolled student, it shall be the claimant’s obligation to produce the certified court order/custody agreement to support such claim.  If multiple schools are impacted, the claimants are responsible to provide each school with the most recent agreement.  The school shall maintain a copy of each such court order/custody agreement in the student’s records.

School Responsibilities

  • School staff shall remain objective and not take sides in child custody disputes
  • If a parent/legal guardian provides a temporary custody agreement or temporary restraining order that is not clear, the school will contact the APS Service Center or APS Police
  • If a parent/legal guardian provides a court order/custody agreement for a student(s) in foster care that is not clear, the school will contact the APS Foster Care Point of Contact.

Legal Names on School Records and Name Changes

Student records will be maintained under the legal name.  In a remarriage situation, the student’s records will not be changed unless a certified copy of a legal name change has been provided to the school.  The school shall maintain a copy of each such court order in the student’s cumulative folder and in the Student Information System.

New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) Custody of Children

Occasionally it becomes necessary for the CYFD Protective Services Department to assume legal and/or physical custody of a child.  CYFD must provide the school written documentation of the child’s status, e.g. Certificate of Custody, Foster Parent’s contact information.  Students must remain in their school of origin (where the child was enrolled at the time of placement in the new residence) unless a Best Interest Determination meeting changes the school placement.

Administrative Position: Chief Operations Officer

Department Director: Student, Parent, and Employee Services Center

References:
New Mexico Guidance: Students in Foster Care (PED) April 2018 

Legal Cross Ref:
6.11.2 NMAC
6.11.2.7 NMAC

Procedural Directives Cross Ref:

NSBA/NEPH Classification: KBBA

Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997 (Child Custody Issues- Archived) and May 1997 (Rights of Non-Custodial Parents-Archived)
Revised: August 2018