Military wife takes walks with her children to the first day of school.

A New School for Your Child: Here’s What You Should Know

For your kids, moving to a new duty station means changing schools. Here’s what you and your children need to know about making the transition a smooth one.

An interstate agreement to make the transition easier

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is designed to make the school switch easier for military families in participating states — in the areas of enrollment, placement and attendance, eligibility and graduation.

Enrollment: The compact makes it much simpler to get started at a new school.

  • School records: You can obtain a copy of your child’s school records from their old school to bring to the new one. Use these until the official records arrive.
  • Immunizations: You have 30 days from the time of enrollment to give your child any new required immunizations.
  • Kindergarten and first grade: Children can continue in their current class year, even if the new school has a different age requirement.

Placement and attendance: While awaiting evaluation at the new school, the compact helps ensure that your child won’t miss any placement requirements.

  • Course and program placement: If your child is already in a program, such as advanced placement, the new school must honor that if they have an equivalent.
  • Placement flexibility: Your child won’t have to repeat basic coursework if they’ve taken something similar already.
  • Absence related to deployment: Students may request excused absences before, during and after the related deployment period.

Eligibility for activities: Your child’s eligibility for attending school and extracurricular activities won’t be affected.

  • Enrollment: Your child can continue to attend their same school if they’re living with a relative, friend, or non-custodial parent during the deployment. The guardian will, however, need a power of attorney to enroll or give permission to participate in school activities.
  • Extracurricular activities: Even if tryouts or application deadlines have passed, the school will help make it possible for the child to participate.

Graduation: With the compact, graduation for kids in high school won’t be affected.

  • Course waivers: If your child has already completed similar coursework, they can waive courses required for graduation at a new school.
  • Exit exams: The new school district may accept your child’s exit exams and achievement tests required to graduate from their previous school.
  • Senior-year transfers: If your student changes school during their senior year, the two school districts will work together to get a diploma from the former school to ensure on-time graduation.

Exceptional Family Members

If you’re the parent of a child with special needs, here’s how to make a smooth school transition.

  • Special education: If the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act covers your child, they have the right to the same services provided by their former school.
  • Timeline: Alert your new school and your medical provider at least 30 days ahead of your move. Request a copy of their complete educational and medical records and submit it to the new school as soon as possible.
  • Reevaluation: The new school system may reevaluate your child’s eligibility for special education services to determine a new Individualized Education Program, or IEP.
  • The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs: The directory provides the information you need to make informed decisions about education and early intervention services.

Switching schools doesn’t have to be stressful. No matter what age your children are, the transition can be a positive change for the whole family.

If you have questions or need help, Military OneSource has military-trained consultants in education and special needs. Call 800-342-9647 at any time to schedule an appointment. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.