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Second only to the family, teachers and schools play the major role in the development of children. It is important for all caregivers to understand their rights and responsibilities in relationship to this important institution. One of the first responsibilities many grandparent caregivers have is to enroll children in school. This chapter will help guide you through the registration process and explain your rights and responsibilities in relation to the school. After the enrollment you may want to contact the school's "parent/teacher" organization to find out how the group incorporates grandparent caregiver concerns in its activities. The volunteer coordinator may also be a resource for information. Schools are not just for children!
If you are not the legal guardian of your grandchild you may sign an affidavit or declaration for enrollment. A copy of this form is reproduced at the end of these questions and answers. (Remember to keep a few extra copies.) Completion of sections 1-4 will authorize you to enroll the child in school and authorize school related medical care. Completion of sections 5-8 will authorize you to consent to a broader range of medical care, which may include mental health care treatment (subject to the limitations of §2356 of the Probate Code) for your grandchild. The affidavit is valid for one year. Cal. Family Code 6550
Call the local Board of Education. They will need to know where you live in order to tell you the school district in which to enroll your grandchild. Next, call that school district and ask about its particular procedures. You will be asked to verify the child's address by presenting one or more of the following: a valid driver's license, a recent utility bill, rent receipts, a letter from a social service agency or other records.
Registration begins May 1 for children starting school the following September. Children must be 5 years of age on or before December 2, in order to be eligible to attend kindergarten in September. A child eligible to attend school in September may enroll in a pre-kindergarten summer program operated by the school district. Cal. Educ. Code §48000 Generally, you will need to show proof of the child’s age. You can do this by presenting a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, a baptismal certificate, or a passport. If none of the above are available, an affidavit from the parent or guardian or the person having custody of the child, may be acceptable. For transfer registration, proof of grade level (a report card or transfer document) is generally required. Cal. Educ. Code §48002
Note: Beginning with the 2001-2002 school year, some districts may be participating in the “Kindergarten Readiness Program” which requires that the child be age 5 by September 1, instead of December 2. Cal. Educ. Code §48005.5 Be sure to call the local school district to verify the age requirement for kindergarten.
You must send the child to school. It is unlawful to neglect or refuse to compel a child between the ages of 6 and 18 to attend school. Cal. Educ. Code §48200
Yes, your grandchild may be exempt from compulsory public school attendance if s/he is attending a private school or has a private tutor for at least 3 hours a day, 175 days a year. Cal. Educ. Code §48225.5 There are other exemptions allowed. Cal. Educ. Code §§48222-48232 You should check with the school district if you have a question about exemptions from compulsory public school attendance.
You should call the school and notify the child's teacher that your grandchild will be absent due to illness or an emergency. It is important to notify the school each time your grandchild will miss school because any pupil absent without a valid excuse more than 3 days in a school year (this may also include unexcused tardiness) is considered truant and will be reported to the attendance supervisor or superintendent of the school district. Cal. Educ. Code §48260
The following are examples of absences that are generally allowed:
You may be required to present a written request for your grandchild to be absent from school. Be sure to check with the school about the requirements for absences.
Many schools have a policy which requires the teacher to call the responsible adult in the event that a child does not attend school. You should check with your grandchild's school to see what guidelines are followed in that school. Some schools have a "Truancy Hotline" that receives calls regarding school age children that have been observed in the community during school hours.
You must show proof that the child has been immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles (rubeola & rubella), poliomyelitis, Hib (haemophilus influenza type b), mumps, and Hepatitis B. In addition, effective July 1, 2001, proof of immunization for Varicella (chickenpox) is required. Children already admitted to school prior to July 1, 2001, are exempt from this new immunization requirement. Cal. Health & Safety §120335 Some school districts may require proof of a physical examination and current TB test.
Children may be exempt from the requirement for medical reasons. The parent or guardian must file a written statement from the doctor stating that the child’s physical condition or medical circumstances make immunization unsafe. Cal. Health & Safety §120370
Children may also be exempt from the requirement for personal reasons. The parent or guardian must file a letter or affidavit stating that immunizations are contrary to the parent or guardian’s beliefs. However, if your unimmunized child has been exposed to one of the communicable diseases listed above, s/he may be excluded from attending school for a specific period of time. Cal. Health & Safety §120365
Children may attend public, private or other approved schools. Cal. Educ. Code §48222-48223 If the child is being tutored as an alternative to attending school, the tutor must be credentialed and the tutoring sessions must be at least 3 hours per day for 175 days per year. Cal. Educ. Code §48224
Children younger than 5 years of age may be admitted to nursery classes. These programs include Head Start, Early Childhood Education, and pre-kindergarten programs. You should check with your school district or look through the phone book to see what programs are available in your area.
ECE programs provide an environment with other children of the same age. The programs are directed at the development level of the young child. Children learn skills which will help them throughout their school years and beyond. For example, children learn how to listen to others, how to share ideas, and that all people can make valuable contributions to the community.
If you suspect that your grandchild has any disability which would require special education you may request that s/he be tested. Children between the ages of 3 and 5, and students enrolled in grades kindergarten through twelve are eligible to be evaluated. In addition, school-based primary (K-3) intervention programs are available to detect and prevent emotional, behavioral and learning problems. Welf. & Inst. §4345
Special Education classes and facilities are provided for disabled children. Cal. Educ. Code §56031 Programs are also available for children as young as 3, and in some cases, for children younger than 3 years old. Cal. Educ. Code §56001
All information about your grandchild's special education evaluation is confidential. Your written consent or a judicial order is required before unauthorized persons can access your grandchild's records. Cal. Educ. Code §49076
Note: If you are the legal guardian, you have the right to inspect your grandchild's records and challenge any information which is included. Cal. Educ. Code §49070
The governing board of the school district may provide for transportation of children whenever, in the board's judgment, such transportation is advisable and good reasons exist. Cal. Educ. Code §39800 Contact the school district in your area to see if transportation is available.
Each local school board sets the policies for discipline within that school district. An effort is made to involve teachers, parents, guardians, and students in the disciplinary procedure. You can ask for a copy of the disciplinary policy for your school district.
Note: No one is permitted to use corporal punishment (spanking or paddling) in public schools. Cal. Educ. Code §49001
A school nurse or designated school employee may administer prescription medicines provided that written authorization is obtained from the child's physician stating the method, amount, and time to be given. A written statement from the parent or guardian is also required. Cal. Educ. Code §49423
Yes. Currently, California participates in the federally funded school lunch program. You will be asked to fill out an application which will verify your income. Many children qualify for free or reduced-cost meals through this program. Recent changes in federal law affecting benefits programs may cause some changes in the availability and rules for eligibility.
There are programs for children whose caregivers begin their workday before school starts, after-school programs and programs for pre-schoolers. Child care facilities and family day centers are licensed through the Department of Social Services.
Some school districts operate programs. Call your local district office and ask about available programs. It is also possible to find child care facilities in the yellow pages of your phone book. Some churches and community programs also operate child care facilities.
It is a good idea to ask about the qualifications of the child care providers. You may want to ask: if the providers have taken classes in early childhood education, if they know basic First Aid, what are the procedures during an emergency, and what types of discipline are used. If you are planning to enroll your grandchild in a daycare facility rather than in private home care, it is also important to ask about the staff-to- child ratio. You should ask how long the staff has been at the particular center and about staff training regarding sensitivity to children who are part of a nontraditional family structure.
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