State Proposes Removing Barriers for Military Students

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Posted: Monday, June 12, 2017 7:14 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The New York State Education Department proposed regulatory amendments to remove barriers to educational programs for children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced. A 45-day public comment period on the proposed amendments begins June 28.

"Military families and their children who may have to move multiple times can face significant barriers to educational opportunities," said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa. "These changes will help ease those transitions and ensure students have every opportunity they need to succeed in school and to graduate on time."

"The Defense Department estimates that the average military family moves three times more often than the average non-military family," said Commissioner Elia. "Students should not be penalized or delayed in achieving their educational goals while a parent is serving our country. These proposed changes will reduce red tape that can be a barrier to achieving academic success for children in military families."

In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Chapter 328 of the Laws of 2014, entitled the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The goal of the compact is, to among other things, promote flexibility and cooperation among the educational systems, parents and students in order for students of military families to achieve educational success and facilitate the on-time graduation of such children. The law provided for the establishment of a State Commission to facilitate the transition of students who transfer in and out of New York State schools as a result of such status.

The Commission is comprised of appointees from the Governor’s office, the Senate and Assembly, the State Education Department, various military representatives, a District Superintendent and a local superintendent from a region that serves a large number of military students.

After several meetings, the Commission identified a number of areas in the Commissioner’s Regulations which must be amended or added to reduce educational barriers for children in military families to comply with the following provisions in the 2014 law:

  • Educational Records, Enrollment and Immunizations: If official education records for a transferring student cannot be released to parents by the state from which a student is transferring, a set of unofficial records will be made available to them. These documents can be used to enroll a student and make placement decisions, which can later be validated. Families will have 30 days from date of enrollment to obtain any immunizations required by the state to which a student is transferring.
  • Placement decisions: When a student transfers before or during the school year, the school to which they are moving will honor placement in courses based on the student’s enrollment at their prior school. Schools will be required to initially honor placement in programs including but not limited to gifted and talented programs, and English as a second language. Districts will also have flexibility to waive course or program prerequisites.
  • Residency Determinations: Special designation of a person in parental relation pursuant to General Obligations Law shall be considered sufficient for the sole purpose of establishing residency of a transferring student into a public school district and for all other actions in the school district requiring parental participation and consent.
  • Graduation Requirements: Local Educational Agencies will be required to waive specific courses required for graduation if similar coursework has been satisfactorily completed in another LEA or shall provide reasonable justification for denial. Should a waiver not be granted, the LEA will be required to provide an alternative means of completing required coursework so that graduation may occur on time.
  • Assessment Requirements: The assessment requirements for a Regents or local diploma call for one Regents exam in each discipline and one Pathway option. Right now, students who transfer in grade 11 are exempt from the Global History and Geography Regents examination; students who transfer in grade 12 are exempt from the Global and Science Regents examinations. However, this provision does not apply to students who spend as little as 1 day enrolled in a New York State high school prior to grade 11 and students of military families often transition in and out of the state multiple times in a four-year period.

SOURCE: New York State Education Department

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