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Family Law for Schools:

Who's the "Parent," Who Has Legal Rights, and Why It Matters


Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq.

About the Presenter

Interested in hosting this programs live at your school or organization or requesting a customized webinar or recorded training?

School employees encounter students from a wide array of backgrounds and families… those whose parents are divorced, those who live with individuals other than their parents, those who are in the foster care system, those whose parents are incarcerated, those who are living on their own, students who are homeless, etc.  It is often difficult to know what rules apply in different, sometimes very complicated, situations.  Can a step-parent view a child’s medical records without specific authorization?  Can a custodial grandparent without legal guardianship agree to related services in an IEP?  What rights do foster parents have?  This session provides a practical approach to determining who has rights with regards to a student and what role non-parents may play in the education of a child.   Atty. Gilsbach provides informational graphics, quick-reference guides, procedural tips, and memorable case studies to reinforce the lessons learned in this session.

In this session, Atty. Erin D. Gilsbach takes a legally-complex subject and distills it into clear, understandable, and practical information and tools that schools can use to ensure that they are effectively meeting the needs of all students while protecting their rights.  This session is ideal for all public and non-public school employees, including public, non-public and charter school teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, coaches/activities coordinators, and other school personnel.  ALL school employees need this training!


This session will provide a discussion of, as well as tips, tools, and best practices regarding the following topics:

  • Common custody-related issues and custodial rights of divorced/separated parents;

  • How to schools should be handling Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders;

  • Who has the authority for each of the following and which laws apply:

    • Making medical decisions / Consent to non-emergency medical treatment on behalf of a child

    • Making educational decisions on behalf of a child

    • Viewing records and/or receive confidential information from student records

    • Consenting to special education services (including related services that may involve the nurse) under the IDEA

    • Taking physical possession of the child

    • Waiving a child’s rights

    • Releasing a party of liability on behalf of a child

    • Providing emergency care/services to a child

  • Practical tips regarding what documentation should be included in new enrollment requests, procedures and protocols schools should follow for requesting and updating custody and PFA documentation, and best practices regarding consent forms, liability waivers, and permission slips. 

About the Presenter:

Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq., is the Executive Director of EdLaw Interactive, which specializes in legal training for educators and school administrators.  An experienced speaker both nationally and in her home state of Pennsylvania, Erin currently serves as the Board of Directors of NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys and President of the PSBA Solicitors Association.  She provides legal consulting and training services to schools, education-related organizations in the areas of special education; development of legally-defensible policies and procedures; trending legal issues regarding technology and education; nursing and school health services; truancy prevention; child abuse prevention and mandated reporting; educator evaluation and discipline; and many other school law topics. 

Elected by her peers as a "Rising Star Attorney" for 5 consecutive years, Erin began her career as a public high school English teacher, and she served for several years at the PA Department of Education’s Office of Chief Counsel.  She was selected as the Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education's (CASE) "2018 Distinguished Speaker."  In 2017, she served as the legal consultant for the desk reference "Legal Issues in School Health Services,” and she is the author of a handbook on health-related special education issues for LRP Publications, which is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2019.

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