Can a school district ignore FAPE and IDEA laws that say a parent has the right to 50% participation (by phone) when a single parent has a protective order against her but made several requests to change her son’s IEP? Did the school have the responsiblity to hold two separate IEP meetings, one with the son and one with the mother to obey the FAPE and IDEA statutes? Is it an act of discrimination to not answer a single parent’s IEP request when there is an order of protection barring the parent from the child and his school?
Your question raises concerns relative to rights of a single parent who has a protective order against her in relation to her child. Without knowing the scope of the protective order, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the details of your situation. The school district is obligated to honor protective orders to the extent which they apply. However, if the protective order does not address information sharing, the existence of the protective order may not be relevant to the parent’s ability to communicate with the school, unless the protective order or other judicial orders limit the parents’ involvement.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a noncustodial parent has a right to information unless an order expressly bars them from having access to this information. Although there is no language in the IDEA regarding restrictions on involvement of a parent where a court order is involved, the language of the court order should determine the scope of parental participation that is permissible.
If a parent feels that they are being overly restricted in their access to information or decision making, beyond the scope of the protective order, they should seek legal counsel with respect to clarifying whether the protective order reaches as far as the school is interpreting it. It may be necessary to seek amendment of the protective order, if the court is prepared to do so.
Alternatively, if the school system is taking an overly restrictive view of the protective order, the parent should seek legal counsel in relation to working with the school to adopt a more cooperative position with respect to the parent’s involvement. Given the situation described, advice from a lawyer in your community who is knowledgeable about these matters would be very important.