A recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells the story of a 6-year-old boy who was recently abducted by his mother. Forsyth County Missing Boy, by Tyler Estep and J. Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 2, 2015. While the phrase “abducted by his mother” sounds strange, this is in fact what happened. The mother, who does not have any custodial rights, took the child triggering the issuance of an Amber Alert. After a daylong search, the mother dropped the child off at a friend’s house and is now in jail on contempt charges. Stories like this can be very scary to parents going through contentious custody battles. Though this child was not taken from a school, it is important to remember that most schools will release a child to his or her parent (with proper ID) no questions asked. To decrease of parental abduction of your child, there are several documents you can provide to your child’s school:
- A copy of any custody order – The custody order will have the full parenting plan that details when the child is with each parent and who has decision making ability. While the school is unlikely to get involved if there is a dispute, it will be helpful if they at least know what is supposed to be happening. For privacy purposes, you can mark out any information that does not have to do with custody, such as any financial information, equitable division, alimony, etc.
- A list of people who ARE authorized to pick the child up from school – Most schools require this kind of written authorization when anyone other than a parent will be picking the child up from school. Make sure the school has a list for your child on file and update it as necessary.
- A list of people who ARE NOT authorized to pick the child up from school – Even though this list can be presumed by the absence of names on the authorized list, it may be important to have this, especially if there are any custody issues. As mentioned above, a school will likely release a child to a parent, no questions asked. However, if one parent has supervised visitation only, or is not allowed to see the child at all, the school needs to know so the child is not released to that parent in contravention of a court order.
- A copy of any Family Protective Order – If there are any family members (parents or otherwise) who are not supposed to have any contact with the child, the school needs to know. That way, if one of these people shows up at the school to get the child, the school will refuse to release the child and may also contact the proper authorities to have the person arrested for violating the TPO.
Some schools may be more open to facilitating custody issues than others but, either way, it does not hurt to provide the school with the information. At the very least, it can help provide you peace of mind that your child is safe when at school.