Woman preparing child for school

Woman preparing child for school ()

Relocation is part of military life. Every few years your family may be required to move, possibly across the country or to another country. Relocating your school-aged student due to PCS or deployment includes its own unique challenges and responsibilities. Military OneSource provides practical information on enrollment, placement and attendance, as well as other helpful information you’ll need to successfully help your children navigate these transitions and build lifelong resiliency. Here are some things you can do before your move to ensure a smooth transition.

Your school liaison can assist with your child’s school transition. School liaisons are your primary point of contact for all school-related matters, especially a school transition. The school liaison at your current installation can connect you to your new installation school liaison who will help smooth the transition to your child’s new school. Let your school liaison help you and your family navigate school selection and youth sponsorship during this time of change.

Obtain school records for immediate enrollment

When leaving your current school district, obtain a copy of your student’s unofficial school records to carry to the new school. Thanks to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, this documentation is sufficient to place your child in comparable classes until the student’s official paperwork arrives at the new school.

The Interstate Compact is designed to make school transitions easier for military families. Currently, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity, or DODEA, have committed to helping students enroll in school, register for the classes they need and graduate on time. Learn more about the Interstate Compact below.

 The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

While the compact is not exhaustive in its coverage, it does address the key issues encountered by military families — eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation. The compact applies to interstate moves as well as overseas moves from a DODEA school to a U.S. public school and moves from a U.S. public school to a DODEA school. The compact does not apply to private or international schools.

For kindergarten and first grade students, they can continue in their current class year even if the new school has a different age requirement. And if your child needs additional immunizations to comply with the new school district, you can enroll your student immediately and take care of these requirements within 30 days.

The compact helps ensure that your student won’t miss any placement requirements. Immediate placement using students’ unofficial records means transitioning military-connected children will be placed in appropriate required classes, advanced placement and special needs programs while awaiting any required evaluations at their new school. The education transition is smoother because your student won’t be put in a “holding class” while your new school is conducting its assessment.

The Interstate Compact also enables a student to miss school for military-related reasons or to request excused absences before, during or after a deployment. The compact provides excused absences for combat deployments only.

 Get your student back into extracurricular activities

If your student is eligible, the new school shall facilitate participation in extracurricular activities even if application deadlines or tryouts have passed.

Focus on graduation

For high school teens, transferring won’t impact their expected graduation. Here are some examples of how the Interstate Compact assists with checking off graduation requirements:

  • Course waivers: If your child has already completed similar coursework, the new school may waive courses required for graduation. In some states, schools can deny the request to apply past coursework. If the school denies applying that coursework toward graduation, it must provide an alternate means of obtaining required coursework to be completed for on-time graduation.

  • Exit exams: The new school district may accept your student’s exit exams and achievement tests required to graduate from his or her previous school. If the school does not, it will provide an alternate means of providing exit exams for the student.

  • Senior-year transfers: If your student changes school during his or her senior year, the two school districts will work together to get a diploma from the former school to ensure on-time graduation.

 Smooth the transition for exceptional family members

Alert your new school and your medical provider at least 30 days ahead of your move. Request a copy of your child’s complete educational and medical records and submit it to the new school as soon as possible. If your student is covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, federal law protects your child’s right to receive the same services identified in his or her existing individual education program, or IEP. The receiving school may perform subsequent evaluations to assess eligibility and ensure appropriate placement. Your local school liaison can also help with this transition by connecting you to your new school’s special education department.

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