Under Indiana law, both parents have equal access to their children’s school and medical records, regardless of which parent is the decision-maker or where the child lives the majority of the time. It is a frequent complaint among divorcing parents that one parent does not share the child’s grades, for example. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide that each parent should obtain information on their own without depending upon the other parent whenever possible. With the advent of the internet, there is no excuse to not know when Back to School night is scheduled, or the full school calendar for the year. As long as a parent knows what school his or her child attends, most of the information is available to everyone on the school’s website. Now with many schools using online assignment and grade-monitoring apps like PowerSchool, both parents can know exactly how their child is doing from the convenience of their cell phones, without constantly sending messages to the teacher.
However, both parents are reminded that when the family was fully intact, it was quite normal for only one parent to attend events that occurred during the school day, such as parent-teacher conferences or the class party. There is no rule stating that now that the parents live in two households, both parents absolutely must attend all events such as these, especially when a parent does not have a job which permits this kind of flexibility. It’s in these circumstances when parents should communicate about who is available to attend the parent-teacher conference, and the parent attending should ask if there is anything the other parent would have asked, if he or she was able to attend. After the conference, the attending parent should pass along the information received from the teacher.
A child may suffer inconvenience, embarrassment, and physical or emotional harm when parents fail to actively obtain and share information. The duty is on each parent to reach out to the child’s school and medical providers for information. And a general rule is that if there is information a parent would want to know themselves, they should probably share it with the other parent.