Parent Dispute Policy

May 2020


Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to explain to the Maryborough Education Centre (MEC) community how our school will approach disputes that may arise between parents in relation to decisions about their student’s education.

Scope

MEC acknowledges and welcomes all family structures and parenting arrangements. We also recognise that parents and carers play an invaluable role in a student’s learning and wellbeing by being actively involved in school life.

While acknowledging that a range of people may be involved in providing care for students at our school, this policy only relates to disputes between a student’s parents or persons with parental responsibility under a court order.

Informal Carers

MEC understands that there may be families in our school community where students are being cared for by a relative or other adult, rather than their parents.

In these circumstances, in order to allow these carers to work with MEC and make decisions about the student’s education, we may ask carers to complete an Informal Carer Statutory Declaration Form. This is a written statement that sets out the care arrangements for the student.

Generally, an informal carer who has provided the school with a completed Informal Carer Statutory Declaration may make school-based decisions for the student and may access school information ordinarily provided to a parent.

policy

Decision-making and parental responsibility

Parental responsibility is defined as all of the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority, which, by law, parents have in relation to their student. Each parent of a student under 18 years of age has parental responsibility for his or her child unless this responsibility is varied by a court order or parenting plan.

When a decision relates to a major long-term issue for a student, MEC will generally seek to approach both parents, or those who have parental responsibility, in relation to that decision (where those parents are known to and are in contact with the school).

For day-to-day decisions, MEC will generally approach the person with whom the student is living with or residing with on that day.

Parents can find more guidance on how the school will manage decision making for students in the Department’s policy on ‘Decision Making Responsibilities for Students’.

Family Law Act Orders and Care Arrangements

Parents are responsible for providing MEC with up-to-date information and documentation relating to:

  • Family Law Act Orders
  • parenting plans
  • informal arrangements that are in place in respect for students of our school.

It is not the responsibility of school staff to monitor or to enforce Family Law Act Orders (or other parenting or care arrangements) for students.

Intervention Orders

MEC understands that some families may have Family Violence Intervention Orders in place.

Parents are responsible for providing MEC with up-to-date information and documentation relating to Intervention Orders and should contact the appropriate Assistant Principal on 03 54617900, to discuss how staff can best support students in these circumstances. Should your Intervention Order be changed or varied, it is important that you inform the school and provide any updated documentation.

Department policy states that breaches of Intervention Orders should be reported to Victoria Police.

Enrolment and transfer

If parents who have equal shared parental responsibility disagree on the decision to enrol a student, MEC may:

  • defer admission and request that parents resolve their dispute and reach an agreement, or
  • if failure to enrol the student or young person is likely to have an adverse effect on their education and wellbeing, MEC may conditionally enrol the student and encourage the parents to resolve their dispute and reach agreement.

Collection

MEC understands that Family Law Act Orders or parenting plans will often include arrangements about which parent is to spend time with the student, and when.

Generally, providing that both parents have shared parental responsibility, parents can collect their student from school. Whilst MEC encourages parents to abide by Family Law Act Orders, school staff are not responsible for enforcing them.

If a dispute between parents over the collection of a student happens at MEC, generally, we will:

  • encourage the parents to resolve their dispute away from school
  • encourage to parents to ensure the student’s attendance at school is not compromised as a result of the dispute over collection
  • where appropriate, move the student to a safe place away from the dispute
  • ask the disputing parties to leave the school grounds if the dispute is causing disruption or concern to the student or any other members of the school community
  • if the dispute cannot be resolved, MEC may contact Victoria Police and/or Child Protection.

Requests for information

Parents are generally entitled to information ordinarily provided to parents, including school reports and newsletters.

Parents seeking information that is not ordinarily provided to parents are encouraged to apply for access through the Freedom of Information process, or, if the information is sought for use in court proceedings, by issuing a subpoena.

Freedom of Information requests should be directed to:

Manager – Freedom of Information Unit

Department of Education and Training

2 Treasury Place

EAST MELBOURNE VIC 3002

03 9637 3134

foi@edumail.vic.gov.au

Managing Disputes

Whenever faced with a dispute between persons who are responsible for decision-making in relation to a student, staff at MEC will seek to:

  • avoid becoming involved
  • avoid attempting to determine the dispute
  • act neutrally and not adopt sides
  • act in the best interests of the student involved
  • act in the best interests of the school community.

MEC encourages parents and carers to seek the assistance of the Family Relationship Centre or obtain independent legal advice if they are unable to reach an agreement about important decisions.

FURTHER INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

REVIEW PERIOD

This policy was last updated on Wednesday 27th May 2020 and is scheduled for review as part of the school’s 3 year review cycle.

This policy was last ratified by School Council on Wednesday 27th May 2020.