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  • Acts
  • 1998
  • Chapter 285 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION TO CERTAIN PARENTS OF CHILDREN ENROLLED IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


Chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 34G the following section:-

Section 34H. (a) Each public elementary and secondary school shall provide the following information in a timely and appropriate manner to the parent of a child enrolled in the school if the parent is eligible for information pursuant to this section and requests the information in the manner set forth in this section: report cards and progress reports; the results of intelligence and achievement tests; notification of a referral for a special needs assessment; notification of enrollment in a transitional bilingual program; notification of absences; notification of illnesses; notification of any detentions; suspensions or expulsion; and notification of permanent withdrawal from school. Each school shall also make reasonable efforts to ensure that other written information that is provided to the custodial parent but not specified in the preceding sentence be provided to the requesting parent if that parent is eligible for information pursuant to this section and requests the information in the manner set forth herein. All address and telephone number information shall be removed from information provided pursuant to this section. Receipt of this information shall not mandate participation in any proceeding to which notification pertains nor shall it authorize participation in proceedings and decisions regarding the child's welfare which are not granted through the award of custody. For purposes of this section, any parent who does not have physical custody of a child shall be eligible for the receipt of information pursuant to the procedures of this section unless said parent has been denied legal custody of the child based on a threat to the safety of the child or to the custodial parent, or who has been denied visitation, or who has been ordered to supervised visitation, or whose access to their child or to the custodial parent has been restricted by a temporary or permanent protective order unless said protective order, or any subsequent order which modifies said protective order, specifically allows access to the information described in this section.

(b) A parent eligible for information pursuant to this section who wishes to have this information shall submit a written request to the school principal annually. The initial request shall include: a certified copy of the probate court's order or judgment relative to the custody of the child indicating that the requesting parent has not sought and been denied shared legal custody as defined in section 31 of chapter 208 based on a threat to the safety of the child or the custodial parent and is entitled to unsupervised visitation with his child, or a certified copy of an order by a probate and family court judge specifically ordering that this information be made available to the requesting parent which certifies on its face that it is being made after a review of the records, if any, of the judgment of custody and the criminal history of the petitioner, that provision of the requested information has not been determined to pose a safety risk for the custodial parent or to any child in the custodial parent's custody and that it is in the best interest of the child that such information be provided to the petitioner; and an affidavit from the requesting parent certifying that the judgment or order remains in effect and that no temporary or permanent protective order restricting access to the custodial parent or to any child in the custodial parent's custody is in effect.

(c) Upon receipt of a request for information pursuant to this section the school shall immediately notify the custodial parent of the receipt of the request. Notification must be made by registered mail and by first class mail in both the primary language of the custodial parent and in English. The school may seek reimbursement for the cost of postage from the requesting parent. The notification shall also inform the custodial parent that information requested pursuant to this section shall be provided to the requesting parent after 21 days unless the custodial parent provides to the principal of the school documentation of any court order which prohibits contact with the child, or prohibits the distribution of the information referred to in this section or which is a temporary or permanent order issued to provide protection to the custodial parent or any child in the custodial parent's custody from abuse by the requesting parent unless said protective order or any subsequent order which modifies said protective order, specifically allows access to the information described in this section.

(d) In each subsequent year, the parent eligible for information pursuant to this section shall indicate in the annual request that he continues to be entitled to unsupervised visitation with his child and to be eligible for the receipt of the information pursuant to this section. Upon receipt of a request for information pursuant to this section the school shall immediately notify the custodial parent of the receipt of the request. Notification shall be made by registered mail and by first class mail in both the primary language of the custodial parent and in English. The school may seek reimbursement for the cost of postage from the requesting parent. The notification shall also inform the custodial parent that information requested pursuant to this section shall be provided to the requesting parent after 21 days unless the custodial parent provides to the principal of the school documentation of any court order which prohibits contact with the child, or prohibits the distribution of the information referred to in this section or which is a temporary or permanent order issued to provide protection to the custodial parent or any child in the custodial parent's custody from abuse by the requesting parent.

(e) At any time the principal of a school is presented with an order of a probate and family court judge which prohibits the distribution of information pursuant to this section the school shall immediately cease to provide said information and shall notify the requesting parent that the distribution of information shall cease.

(f) The principal of each public elementary and secondary school shall designate a staff member whose duties shall include the proper implementation of this section.

(g) Requests for information made pursuant to this section which are made while a permanent protective order restricting access to the custodial parent or to any child in the custodial parent's custody is in effect shall constitute a violation of said protective order and be subject to the applicable penalties.

(h) The department of education shall promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of this section. Said regulations shall include provisions which assure that the information referred to in this section is properly marked to indicate that said information may not be used to support admission of the child to another school.

Approved August 10, 1998.