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Grandparents Can Get Authority To Make School Decisions for Grandchildren

Q: My grandson, whose parents live in another school district in Ohio, has come to live with me. Can  I enroll him in my school district while he’s living with me?
You may be able to. In July 2004, Ohio law changed to make it easier for grandparents to enroll their grandchildren in the school district in which the grandparents live. If your grandson is living with you and you are able to contact his parents, the parents may execute a caretaker Power of Attorney (POA) giving you the authority to enroll the child in school and to make educational and health care decisions on behalf of your grandson.  If you are unable to contact your grandson’s parents after reasonable effort, you may execute a Caretaker Authorization Affidavit (CAA) that gives you the authority to enroll your grandson in school and to make educational and health care decisions on your grandson’s behalf. There are various requirements for both the POA and CAA, including notarization by an Ohio notary. The forms are valid for 12 months unless a parent terminates them earlier, the child leaves the grandparent's home, or a court terminates the POA or CAA. The forms may be available through the juvenile court in your county and they must be filed with that juvenile court or another court with authority over the child, such as a domestic relations or probate court. These forms also must be presented to the school at the time of your grandson’s enrollment.

Another way of getting your grandchild enrolled in your school district is for the boards of education of the two school districts to agree. If your grandson is under age 22, and is living with you even though his parents have custody, he may attend school in your school district if, first, the boards of education of your school district and his parents’ school district enter into a written agreement that:  1) says there is a good reason for your grandson to go to school in your district; 2) describes this good reason; and 3) consents to your grandson’s attendance. This arrangement is often called a “Grandparent’s Agreement.”

A third option might apply if you have tried to get legal custody of your grandson. Ohio law allows your grandson to be enrolled in your school district tuition-free for not more than 60 days if you give a sworn statement that you have started legal proceedings for custody. If custody proceedings are completed within that 60-day period, then your grandson can continue to attend school in your district, and your school district will charge tuition to the school district where his parents live. If custody proceedings have not been completed within 60 days and if there is no Grandparent’s Agreement, then you may have to pay tuition so that your grandson can continue attending school in your district.

Remember that, if your grandson needs special education services, then he may attend school in your school district tuition-free while he lives with you regardless of custody issues or whether a Grandparent’s Agreement is in place.

Q: Our son, a single parent, recently was called to active military duty in Iraq. We are caring for our granddaughter while he is away. Can she attend school in the district?
A: Yes, for a limited time. Under Ohio law, your granddaughter may attend school in your school district for up to 12 months if your son files an affidavit with your district’s superintendent of schools. The affidavit must state:  1) that your son is serving outside Ohio in the United States armed services; 2) that he intends to live in your district when he returns to Ohio; and 3) your name and address. Alternatively, under federal law, your son may execute a military power of attorney that grants you, or any other caretaker, the ability to enroll his daughter in school, to obtain information from the school, to consent to school-related matters regarding his daughter and to consent to medical, psychological or dental treatment for his daughter. This military power of attorney will be treated the same as a caretaker POA while it is in effect.


This "Law You Can Use" consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was originally prepared by Katherine F. Dolan, Esq., and Nicole M. Donovsky, an attorney with the Columbus firm of Means, Bichimer, Burkholder & Baker Co., L.P.A. It was updated by Nicole Donovsky.

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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