FAQ Series: How the Interstate Compact affects school aged kids

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This week we respond to your frequently asked questions about the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, more commonly known as the Interstate Compact.

Q: What is the Interstate Compact?

A: The Interstate Compact is an agreement among states that allows for the uniform treatment of military children transferring between school districts and states. As of August, 2013 it has been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. It addresses issues that may affect military children as they move to a new school district, including enrollment, placement, and graduation requirements.

Q: Who is covered by the Interstate Compact?

A: The Interstate Compact covers children of active duty service members enrolled in grades K-12 in public school. Children of National Guard and Reservists are covered when the service member is in active duty status. Children of retirees are covered for one year following the service member’s retirement. Note that the Compact only applies to public schools. The Compact does not apply to private schools and does not address home schooling.

Q: My child is old enough to start kindergarten in our old location, but the new state has a different cut-off date. What can I do?

A: Under the Compact, if your child has enrolled in and attended kindergarten in your previous state, he should be allowed to continue kindergarten in your new state. However, this only applies if your child actually attended kindergarten. If your child was old enough for kindergarten in your previous location but you moved prior to the beginning of the school year, the new district is not required to allow him to start kindergarten.

Q: My child was receiving special education services at our old school. Will he continue to receive them at our new school?

A: The new school should provide comparable services based on your child’s current Individual Education Plan (IEP). This is required both by the Compact and by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The new school is permitted to evaluate the student later to ensure appropriate placement.

Q: We had to move midway through my child’s senior year. Will he graduate on time?

A: An important goal of the Compact is to ensure that students graduate on time, even when they have to move during their senior year. For this reason, the Compact states that districts should waive specific course requirements for seniors as long as similar course work has been completed. If a waiver is denied and there is no way to complete the required course work on time, arrangements should be made for the student to receive a diploma from the previous school district.

Q: I don’t feel as though my school is following the Interstate Compact. What can I do?

A: It’s not uncommon for teachers and administrators to be unfamiliar with the Interstate Compact. Your installation’s School Liaison Officer can help you work with the school to resolve any questions about how the Compact should be implemented. Each state also has a Compact Commissioner responsible for helping ensure that the Compact is adhered to.

Q: Where can I go for more information?

A: The Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission website includes FAQ’s and other resources, including printable and downloadable brochures for parents, teachers, and school administrators.

What is your family’s experience with the Interstate Compact? Share your story in the comments below!

eileenPosted by Eileen Huck, Government Relations Deputy Director


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  1. 1
    Sandra Moore

    I was horrified when we moved overseas and found out that DoDEA isn’t a part of the Interstate Compact, nor do they follow it. My daughter had completed all of her requirements to graduate prior to leaving New Mexico, but DoD was going to require another year of PE, a computer class, and a fine art–because they didn’t accept stage craft. I was all for not having her graduate early so that she could take extra Science and math, but all of the extra requirements weren’t academics. They were fluff. I went ahead and requested her diploma because a mind is a terrible thing to waste with nothing buy fluff.

    Why isn’t DoDEA following the standards of the Interstate Compact? Their whole mission is to serve military children!!!

    • 2
      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      Thanks so much for your comment, Sandra. We’re sorry to hear that your daughter had a negative experience but are glad that you were able to work it out so that she could receive her diploma. Without knowing more details it’s hard to answer your question specifically, but you are right that technically DoDEA is not a member of the Interstate Compact. That’s because the Compact is an agreement among states, and since DoDEA is not a state, they cannot be a member of the Compact. However, DoDEA is an 'ex officio,' or non-voting, member of the Compact (as are we!) which means they sit on the Compact Commission in an advisory role. All DoDEA schools should be familiar with and follow the terms of the Compact. If you feel that’s not the case, you should always feel free to ask your installation school liaison office for help.
      -National Military Family Association

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