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Schools play role in protecting children in child custody dispute

When parents divorce, children often get caught in the crossfire. One of the most difficult situations to resolve for all involved parties are child custody disputes. South Carolina residents who are struggling to settle these issues can also enlist the aid of their child's school whenever there are concerns for a child's safety.

Two years ago, a grandmother was caught on school property in an alleged attempt to kidnap her grandchild. Officials later discovered several items in her possession, including ropes and food items. In another incident, a noncustodial mother purportedly convinced her child to get close to the school's boundary fencing so that she could attempt to drive away with the child. Both scenarios underscore the need for schools to play a role in protecting students during custody battles.

School security officials recently issued a reminder to parents and school personnel that it is important to ensure that any court documents relating to custody of a child are submitted to office staff at the beginning of every academic year. Many parents who are worried that a noncustodial parent or other relatives may attempt to contact a child during the school day can provide staff with any updates to child custody orders, including whether a parent is permitted access to a child for picking up or dropping off. Educators who have well-defined visitor procedures and updated records can help ensure the safety of all students who may be affected by a custody fight.

Along with maintaining current court documents, school personnel are encouraged to have a thorough understanding of the definitions of child custody orders and how each pertains to a particular student. However, unless there is written documentation from a court that specifically bars such sharing, both parents are typically entitled to have access to their child's school records. South Carolina parents who are facing these difficult circumstances may benefit from seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Source: campussafetymagazine.com, "How Schools Should Protect Students from Child Custody Disputes", Amy Rock, April 23, 2018

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