PCSing With School-Aged Kids? Read This!
Hopefully by now you've heard of the Military Interstate Compact, or MIC-3. It is an inter-state agreement between all 50 states plus Washington, DC, that entitles military families certain special considerations when it comes to school enrollment, course availability, activities and sports participation, and special needs programs.
If you are PCSing with kids - this year or in the future - you need to understand this compact. Below you will find some basic information related to common questions, but please check out the links for complete information.
Kindergarten/First grade start age: The Compact mandates that a receiving school must accept a child who was previously enrolled in K/1st grade even if the receiving school's age cutoff is different. This does NOT require that the receiving school enroll a child who is under the cutoff age if the child was not previously enrolled at the sending school.
Placement in Special Programs (e.g. GATE or Gifted and Talented Education, etc): The receiving school must automatically enroll the child. The school may require additional testing later, but enrollment is automatic until a test proves the child is no longer qualified/eligible. (***This does not mean that a school will create a program or hire a new employee to accommodate a service that they do not currently provide.***)
Special Needs services: The receiving school must initially enroll the child automatically in identical or similar programs, if available. This can change with additional assessments performed by the receiving school; but the assessment is not a pre-requisite for initial enrollment. (***This does not mean that a school will create a program or hire a new employee to accommodate a service that they do not currently provide.***)
Absence due to deployments: For a military parent's departure or return from deployment, the school must accommodate additional days off to facilitate adjustments for a certain period before the departure and after the return. DO NOT ABUSE THIS ENTITLEMENT. Also, communicate with the school about testing dates - if the school has a standardized test scheduled during a deployment-related absence, it is exceptionally difficult to reschedule, and your school will appreciate it if you try to avoid absences during testing periods
Participation in athletics or extracurricular activities: Schools must provide accommodations for students to participate in these programs if they missed tryouts or transferred in the middle of the school year. This does not mean that a program will be created if there isn’t one, and it doesn’t guarantee a spot for the incoming child – but it does require special consideration for milkids.
In Loco Parentis: Anyone can enroll a child in school with a valid parental power of attorney, or "in loco parentis" letter. The letter must specify that school enrollment is allowed.
These are the most common issues related to MIC-3, but there is a lot more to the compact. Review the complete Compact here, and check out the FAQs and great fact sheets!
Additionally, the Military Child Education Coalition provides some vital information designed to support student success.
Lastly, schools annually put out “Parent-Student surveys” – the information gathered from these surveys is what determines whether schools will receive additional federal funding because they have a minimum percentage of military- or federal-connected students. Historically, K-6 return rates for the surveys have been pretty good (but could be better). High school…not so good. Take advantage of the opportunity to provide this information – it could mean money for your school, which could mean additional programs, more dedicated resources for military kids, additional staff, etc!
As a parent, it is vital that you advocate for your children's education - but you must know the resources and rights available to you. Do your research. Communicate with your children's teachers and counselors. Reach out ahead of time to your new school district (the district websites always have points of contact - if there isn't someone assigned specifically to deal with military children, try the liaison assigned to assist with other at-risk kids (homeless, foster, etc).