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As children spend almost all of their formative years in school or otherwise receiving structured education, decisions concerning education are often the most impactful and consequential decisions parents may make for their children. Decisions concerning whether the child will be home schooled or attend public or private school, which course of study a child will engage in, and whether the child will be allowed to enroll in advanced classes are all decision that should be made by both co-parents if at all possible. However, in the event the parents are unable to agree concerning issues dealing with their child’s education, such decisions would be made by the parent granted final decision making authority in the area of education. Other decisions that a parent with final decision making authority regarding education may make include: which school the child should attend, which school district the child should be enrolled in, which electives (such as health, sex education, or industrial technologies) a child may take, and whether a child may take advantage of a school sponsored field trip or other academic outing.
Practice Pointer - Limits on educational decision making
In order to address concerns about final decision making authority being granted to another parent for educational purposes, limits could be put into place. For example, the parties could agree private school at XYZ school will continue unless both parties agree to make a change.
Although one parent has been granted final decision making authority in the area of education, this does not mean that the other parent is not entitled to receive communication or information from the school concerning the child or children involved. Each parent, regardless of which has been awarded final decision making authority in the area of education, is entitled to receive all communications, such as notices regarding their child’s academic performance, and to attend all conferences, such as parent-teacher conferences, as the parent with final decision making authority. In fact, the parent who has not been awarded final decision making authority should request that he or she receive a copy of all correspondence and notices from the school to ensure that he or she remains fully apprised of the his or her child’s academic well-being.
It is important to note however, that although each parent is entitled to receive information concerning their child’s education, only the parent awarded final decision making authority may make final and binding decisions concerning the child’s education. If the other parent makes decisions or takes actions inconsistent with the court’s determination of legal custody (for example: if the other parent enrolls the child in private school against the wishes of the parent with final decision making authority), the parent awarded final decision making authority concerning education may seek the remedy of contempt against the other parent.