The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children was created to provide a smooth transition for military children as their families relocate from installation to installation. “While the Compact is not exhaustive in its coverage, it does address the key issues encountered by military families: eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation” (NCSL, 2014). The Compact has been created with the hope that students will not lose academic time in transition, obtain an appropriate placement, and be able to graduate on time. Currently, all 50 states and District of Columbia participate in the Compact.
What do Parent Centers Need to Know?
Some of the main provision of the Compact are:
- If a child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and receives special education services, or a 504 Plan that lists accommodations, the new school must place the child in a comparable program. It does not require the same services, but one that can meet the child’s needs. The new school must address all the current needs of the child until, and unless, the school determines through assessments, that the student no longer needs the services or the current level of services.
- The Compact acknowledge IDEA’s provisions for moving to a new school district with a current IEP. It’s silent regarding Individualized Family Services Plans (IFSPs), because those are State-specific. The infant or toddler will need to meet the criteria established by that State to determine if the child is eligible to receive services. If eligible, there are no assurances that the child will receive the same services.
- Schools are required to accept hand carried, photo copied or unofficial school records. Waiting for the original official transcripts can be time consuming and not beneficial to the student since receiving official documentation from another state or overseas can take weeks.
- Schools should allow dependents to be absent without penalties to participate in activities related to the parent’s deployment.
- Students should be allowed to continue in the same grade they were in prior to the relocation, even if the new school system has different entrance timelines for class enrollment (this is especially important for kindergarteners).
- Although the Compact has been around since 2006, there may be school staff who have not heard about the Compact – especially in areas where there are not many active duty families.
- Students receive accreditation for each class they complete. The accreditation relates to the amount of credits a student has received per class. These credits may not transfer (credit for credit) when relocating from one school to another. Per the Compact, schools should be working to allow students to transfer to the same grade without an issue. Schools/districts should have a comparison chart that will show them how the incoming student’s credits compare to the same or similar classes the new school offers.
- If the student is in his or her senior year when the move occurs, he or she should be granted credit, if at all possible, so that the student can graduate with his or her current class. High school class credits within US public schools should transfer per the Interstate Compact to the new school. College courses are not covered under the Compact so they may not transfer credit for credit.
NOTE: Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) are schools on installations overseas. Those families relocating to an overseas school need to request that the cross comparison of credits takes place. The Compact does not cover overseas schools, so the child is likely to be placed in the grade that the transferred credits allow. This will be determined by the DoDDS school system the student is relocating to, and it may not be the same process used in the State’s public schools.
For an interactive map showing key Compact information for your State, visit: http://mic3.net/interactive-map.html (external link).