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 moving between states. The Compact is applicable in all 50 states and helps in 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: Your child’s progress in their previous school will be recognized.

  • 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.
  • Attendance: The Compact enables a student to miss school for military-related reasons.
  • 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.

Children with special needs are also part of the Compact

  • Special education: If the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act covers your child, they have the right to comparable services provided by their most current Individualized Education Program, or IEP.
  • 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 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.
  • Exceptional Family Member Program: Your local installation EFMP Family Support staff can help you identify and access programs and services related to education, outreach, local school and early intervention services.
  • Special Needs Consultants: Special needs consultants can be accessed through Military OneSource Exceptional Family Member Program Resources, Options and Consultations, or EFMP ROC. Consultants are available by phone or video to help you navigate the medical and educational needs of your family and connect you with military and community-based support. Schedule an appointment by visiting Military OneSource or by calling 800-342-9647. Military families can make an appointment 24/7 by live chat or phone. Special needs consultations are available via phone or video session.

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.