The thought of a school accidentally releasing a child into the care of the wrong person can be a frightening situation. Situations have arisen where an ex-spouse, or the child’s estranged parent has come to pick them up, and fled the city. To protect and guard children from being released into the care of anyone else beside the designated parents, as well as the parents’ appointees, schools have taken measures to ensure children are released into the care of the proper person.
School districts can release children into the care of persons other than the parent or guardian who enrolled the child. However, this person requesting the release must be verified against the list of names provided by the parent upon enrollment. Schools may adopt procedures for submitting a release list at a later date, or updating the list that was previously provided, but this policy may be independent to the individual school (§3210(c)).
If someone attempts to pick up the child from school, and is not on the list, the school may not release the child, unless in the case of an emergency. However, the case of this emergency is determined solely at the discretion of the school’s principal, or his or her designee. It is important to note that a decision such as this cannot be taken lightly.
The principal, or designee responsible for releasing a child into the care of an unauthorized person involves serious issues of health and safety”, and may constitute grounds for termination (Appeal of Greene, 45 Ed. Dept Rep 519 (2006); Chalen v. Glen Cove Sch. Dist., 29 A.D3d 508 (2d Dep’t), Iv. to app. denied, 7 N.Y.3d 709 (2006); Heberling b. Brewster CSD, 2012 NY Misc. Lexis 2168 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2012)).
For a principal or the principal’s designee to release a child into the custody of someone not originally authorized, they must first verify the facts of the situation. To do this, they must get ahold of the student’s parents or person in parental relation, and they must agree to release the child into this person’s care. It is important to note that this procedure does not, however, apply to students under the protective custody provisions of the Social Services Law and the Family Court Act (§ 3210(1)(c)).
In all, school districts implement strict policies to ensure the protection of children in their care. When releasing children, they take all measurable steps to prevent a child being released into the care of an unauthorized person.
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