New school year brings mixed emotions


A new school year is often an exciting and stressful time. At the Delaware County Domestic Relations Court, this time of year brings a lot of cases that involve school-related issues.

Growing up, I always looked forward to the start of a new school year as an opportunity to be with all of the other kids at school.

Why? Well let me tell you. Back when I was a kid, we did not have social media, the internet, or even cable television. We only had three local TV channels plus PBS. Being in school with all the other kids was our chance to interact and have fun together.

Back then, we did not have smart phones or even cell phones. We had a phone in the house, and our phone was on a party line. So, we shared the phone line with several of our neighbors including my grandparents. So, if grandma or any other neighbor was on the phone, we could not make a phone call.

Even worse, or maybe even better, depending on your view, the people sharing a party phone line could listen in to your phone conversation. And, you could listen in on what was going on in your neighbor’s life just by picking up the phone and listening to their conversation.

Man, I feel old writing this. Times certainly have changed!

One thing that has not changed is the importance of parents supporting their child’s education. When children live in two separate homes due to parents separating or divorcing, they often have two sets of celebrations, belongings, and routines. But they still have just one school. Historically, a common struggle between parents living in two separate homes is determining what school district their child will attend.

More recently, cases often involve parents living apart in the same school district, but they disagree about which specific elementary school, middle school, or high school within the district that the child will attend. The court understands parents sometimes need help with this decision when both parents want their child to attend the school based on where they live.

These cases are never easy. We often see two good parents and good school systems. Each case is unique, and only one parent can be chosen to be the school placement parent, with no middle ground. The court always looks at the totality of the facts and circumstances to make a decision that is in the child’s best interest.

This year my daughter was very excited to start her school year. My wife and I have been a little stressed about the start of a new school year. My daughter loved going to preschool, and we wanted to make sure she loves her new Pre-K class.

We recently went to the “meet the teacher” event at her school. We explored her new classroom. I think my daughter played with every toy in the classroom in the short time we were there.

We met some of her classmates. Some of her classmates are new friends for her. The children played together as the parents provided helpful reminders to share and not get upset when another child wanted to play with the same toy. Sometimes this included hugs and wiping away tears.

My daughter was reunited with some friends she went to preschool with last year. My heart sang as several of the young girls gave great big bear hugs when they saw each other after a few months apart. This quickly turned into a game of who can bear hug and lift the other girl up off the ground the longest amount of time.

Overall, starting Pre-K has gone well, and we have had a lot of fun. I hope all parents with school-aged children had a great start to the new school year!


By Randall D. Fuller

Contributing columnist

Randall D. Fuller is judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Fuller is a life-long resident of Delaware County.

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