Moving is never easy for military families. Add in the search process for schools and then going through registration, and the stress compounds. Active duty military families do have a tool that can help make the process a little easier – the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children or MIC3.
Understanding the rights the compact provides military families can be key to a smooth transition to a new school. And since Maryland, DC and Virginia are among the 43 states that have signed the compact, parents can take full advantage of MIC3 here. You can read more about the compact at mic3.net or the full compact through this link http://www.csg.org/knowledgecenter/docs/ncic/FinalCompactLanguage01.... But like many government policy sites, the explanations tend to read like a lawyer’s brief.
I've tried to translate some of the official language with the help of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) officials Joanne Chen, Student Registration coordinator, and Marcy Miller, Coordinator School Counseling and College Success. Remember, the compact applies only to states that have signed the agreement, and only if your child is attending or was enrolled in a public school.
School Registration: Many school districts don’t want to give parents official transcripts or records to carry to a new district. Under the compact, the school you are leaving must at least provide complete copies of educational records and your new school can register your child using these hand-carried, unofficial records and transcripts. The school must also place your child in grade and courses based on those records. The placement may be reviewed once official records have been received.
The compact also gives families at least 30 days from enrollment to obtain any necessary immunizations. This can be especially helpful if you are moving during a school year and can’t get them immediately.
For most school districts, registration must be done in person and proof of residency is required to show the student lives within the school’s boundary. School web sites list the documents you’ll need to present at registration, along with the necessary registration forms, which you can download and complete before going to the school.
Kindergarten/First Grade Age: Every state still seems to have different age requirements for starting kindergarten or first grade. MIC3 makes sure that children will be allowed to continue enrollment at their current grade level in a new school district regardless of age. Chen explained that in Virginia, if you had fully enrolled a child eligible for kindergarten in public school in your previous state, but then had to move to this area, your child will be allowed to register for kindergarten even if their 5th birthday falls after the state’s September 30 cut-off.
Absences: Children can be given additional excused absences, if they are missing school due to the deployment of a parent, i.e. mid-tour leave, welcome home activities. In all cases, Chen advised that parents speak directly with the school principal to coordinate these absences.
Chen noted that parents need to be aware that though states and school districts have different regulations, compact members are committed to making the registration process easier for military families. She recommends contacting your new school district’s registration office to have questions answered.
An additional resource for military families is your local post or base school liaison officer. For JB Myer-Henderson Hall, call Elizabeth Battin at 703-696-3817; at Fort Belvior call the Liaison office at 703-805-9119 or http://belviormwr.com/Facilities/CYS/SLO.php; the Fort Meade contact is http://ftmeademwr.com/cyss/sls.php; and Andrews AFB is 301-981-0057.
Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow - when Marcy Miller helps decode High School registration issues.