Academic records can really make or break a case. Even if they are not extremely helpful either way as to academics. They may be unremarkable, such as not being too bad but below potential or being pretty good but not as good as possible they are a daily record in the life of your child(ren).
You might be surprised how many times the school records will demonstrate a pattern that assists the court in getting a sense of the problems of the case and potential solutions. I never cease to be surprised by what school records can show.
Take for example a child who has 30 absences or tardies at the end of the school year.
Sometimes the records will show that all, or a disproportional number ,of those are on a day when one parent was responsible. It’s just that easy sometimes. Just that objective.
Many, many times I will have my client obtain these school records before we even know what they will demonstrate or corroborate. Maybe the records will show that the father put down his new girlfriend as the emergency contact. instead of the children’s mother. Never a good idea.
The school records may show a whole range of things if you take the time to look through them. There maybe statements in the records that the children, teachers, or parents have made. There may evidence that a child is not receiving prescribed medication etc.
There may be evidence who attended the parents conferences, what if any problems were discussed and other parent involvement. I have even seen school records that reflect the children did not have appropriate clothing or nutrition. (Sad)
What is really disturbing is when the records show a pattern regarding school performance or even more basic needs, such as above. The school records might indicate that the child is always unprepared for school when he comes on Tuesday and, for example, that he stays with mother on Monday night.
I have seen school records that don’t show something of value. In a contrast related to school records, teachers are not usually helpful witnesses. There are a number of reasons for this but I have seen the following: Teachers don’t like to be very committal as to fault and blame so their testimony is usually of limited value.
You would be wise to know the dynamic of subpoenas when we are discussing teachers. You are MAKING a person come somewhere they don’t want to go COURT and MAKING them say something they probably don’t want to say IN FRONT OF A COURTROOM OF ANGRY PEOPLE.
All the while they know YOU put them in that position. The result can be unpredictable, to say the least.
Most of all, teachers are not great witnesses because judge’s don’t like to see teachers standing around in court who could be teaching. For that precise reason, call them first so they can leave. For all I know they take the day off and go mountain climbing, but it the judge does not see them they are not my problem.
Tim Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place
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