If the school offers separate conferences to divorced parents, can it exclude one biological parent from one of the conferences? Assume there is no legal reason (e.g. EPO) why the parent cannot be present at both.

Concerns related to having two conferences where one parent might disagree with this process include:

1) Information about the child's education might get missed, parents will have different questions and it is unrealistic to expect the teachers to keep detailed notes and share all that was discussed

2) One parent might say (or find it easier to say) uncomplimentary things about the other (credit to Catija in the comments for suggesting this reason)

3) Having two conferences is a burden for teachers, and even if offered by the school, might not be appreciated esp. if the teacher has to take personal time out to accommodate the parents

4) Having two conferences can confuse the child (e.g. why is this happening now differently to the past) or demonstrate that two parents cannot set aside their differences for the short duration of the conference

5) If the child can only be present at one of the conferences due to scheduling issues, then the excluded parent might prefer to be at the conference where the child is present

  • 1
    Brad, I think the down voter wants the same answer I do. The question as it stands makes no sense. I cannot make them up vote you, but if it turns out to be a good question, I will up vote.
    – WRX
    Apr 27, 2017 at 22:03
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    @Willow If they have separate conferences, it would potentially give the other parent the chance to say things that are uncomplimentary (and possibly untrue or one-sided) of the other parent.
    – Catija
    Apr 27, 2017 at 22:04
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    @Catija, that is the reason for two conferences -the parents cannot be civil. When I had to hold two, I simply refused to discuss the other parent. Most professionals would. It is a conference about the student and their progress, not an opportunity for he said/she said. I went so far as to send a note home outlining what the conference was about and never had a problem.
    – WRX
    Apr 27, 2017 at 22:10
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    I think your question is much better, Brad. I never had a child attend a conference; children played in the gym with supervision., while a parent was in conference. I always sent home the agenda for the conference, it was the the same for all. I doubt I can give you an answer based on my different experience. My ex and I attend the same conference, without our daughter.
    – WRX
    Apr 28, 2017 at 0:09
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because what a parent's rights are, what a school's abilities and rights are and how those interact are a legal question that we are not equipped to deal with. Further more, these are likely to vary by location. This is a legal matter and not suited for this site (it is explicitly off-topic as per the help center).
    – Becuzz
    May 1, 2017 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


As you made mention of, this depends on the situation. In the vast majority of cases, in the three states I've worked (US), Illinois, Wisconsin, and Oregon, both custodial parents have the right to attend parent-teachers' conferences. The school and teacher are responsible for making arrangements, and the children don't directly attend the conferences. (There are probably some exceptions to child presence, just not that I know of.)

There are lots of exceptions to both biological parents having meetings, which might be a good question for the Law SE site. A few I know of:

  1. The biological parent is not a custodial parent. Adoptions, sperm donors, disappearing parents, et. al.

  2. One or both parents have a mental illness shown to be dangerous to self or others during the conference window.. This is a case-by-case issue. I've never seen something like this go before a family court judge, but I suppose in theory it could.

  3. One parent has been excluded from the school's campus. This could be for a number of reasons; I've heard of teachers sending reports by mail and discussing matters over the phone.

Specifically, biological parents do not have the inherent right to attend parent-teachers' conferences.

  • At our school, we had Parent/Teacher conference once each term. They were held on one evening and also before or after school that same week. There were bells to keep the meetings to 15 minutes -- imagine 30 kids in a class! That's over 7.5 hours extra plus preparation and transition time. We were not obliged to do two interviews for any reason and the only reason any of us did was to help parents with children having difficulties. The available hours were always the same, so parents could ask for an appointment well in advance. Of course we did made some exceptions for special cases.
    – WRX
    Apr 29, 2017 at 16:50

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