On Thursday, May 28, the Alexandria City School Board voted unanimously to recognize the contributions made by military personnel and agreed to work to accommodate military school children at their neighborhood school.
The policy aims to ensure that children whose parents move due to military-related relocations do not suffer due to frequent relocations. It also ensures that children can return to a neighborhood school they have previously attended prior to a military posting.
The policy is aligned with the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, to which Virginia is party. Through signing on to this compact, Virginia has recognized this group of school children as having unique needs.
Beginning in school year 2015-16, the Virginia Department of Education is requiring all school divisions in Virginia to establish a process for the identification of newly enrolled students who reside with a parent or guardian in the uniformed services.
The Compact requires school divisions to identify such students “for the purposes of enhancing the funding and quality of services provided to serve the unique needs of uniformed services-connected students residing in the Commonwealth.”
“ACPS is proud to support the steps designed to provide flexibility and cooperation between the school division, families and the military child in order to achieve educational success for these students. We want to be champions for all ACPS students,” said Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley.
The change in policy regarding the placement of children from military families in neighborhood schools complements a larger effort to remove barriers to educational success imposed on these children because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents and guardians.
According to the website militaryonesource.mil, which keeps track of the placement of military families, these policy changes currently affect approximately 100 families with 170 school-age children who live in the City of Alexandria.
“I was proud and humbled to look out into a School Board meeting and see our men and women in uniform advocating for this policy change. I was glad our Board was able to step up and provide this small bit of additional support for Alexandria’s military families,” said School Board Member Bill Campbell.
ACPS policies support facilitating timely enrollment and ensure that military families are not placed at a disadvantage due to difficulties in the transferring of education records from their previous school district or variations in the age requirements between countries. They promote flexibility and cooperation between the educational system, parents, and the student to achieve educational success for the student, including participation in educational and extra-curricular activities and on-time graduation.
School Board Member Pat Hennig also requested an additional amendment to the policy which facilitates the registration process at schools for military families. The amendment allows military families with school-age children 30 days to produce their immunization records following registration at a school. Previously, all children had a four-day grace period to produce their immunization records, which can be a problem for families returning from postings abroad. She also requested leniency for school-age children of military families over application dates for educational programs if affected by relocation.