How and when to tell the school that legal proceedings are going on involving the family?
First and foremost, consult with your attorney about legal documents and
information the school may need or require in your legal situation, if any. Your
attorney is your first and best resource to discuss your responsibilities regarding
your child and school during legal proceedings.
Supporting your child’s educational needs and how that will best be achieved
raises some questions. Here are some you may want to consider:
• What do you want to accomplish by telling school personnel there are legal
proceedings going on, e.g. how do you think it may help your child?
• If you decide to inform school personnel, what do you want them to know and
how would you like for them to support your child educationally, with school
peers, and/or with extra-curricular activities?
• What will you tell your child so that he or she knows that there are resources at
school for support, if needed or desired?
• How and when will you communicate this information with school personnel and
• What kind of ongoing contact will you have with the school about your child’s
educational needs during and after proceedings?
This list of questions may be a place to start and is not exhaustive. If needed,
there are mental health professionals who will listen and may raise other helpful
questions as you try to sort this out. It depends on what you think is right for your
situation and how immediate the needs are.
Your decision about with whom and how you will share information with school
personnel may depend on the age of the child and the child’s specific needs.
Your child’s needs and your needs in supporting him or her may change during
the course of the proceedings and afterwards.
Sarah B. Wilhelms, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in Missouri.
She has a bachelor of arts degree with honors and a Master of Social Work with
honors, both from Washington University in St. Louis. Sarah has been a social
work clinician over 15 years with professional experience in family custody and
visitation matters, grief and loss, foster care and adoption, healthcare, child
development, developmental and learning disabilities, and trauma. For more
information, you may contact her at 314-605-9635