New law helps Ohio military families with school transfers

Students at Beverly Gardens Elementary unfurl a new banner recognizing them as a Purple Star military-friendly school, while state schools superintendent Paolo DeMaria (right) speaks to students. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

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Students at Beverly Gardens Elementary unfurl a new banner recognizing them as a Purple Star military-friendly school, while state schools superintendent Paolo DeMaria (right) speaks to students. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

A new Ohio law will make it easier for children of military families to transition in and out of K-12 schools when they are transferring from one base to another.

House Bill 244 addresses a handful of issues for military families, from enrollment and residency timing, to online learning during transition. According to the Legislative Service Commission, the bill says:

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  • Public schools must permit children of military families to participate in “technology-based educational opportunities” to minimize disruptions when they receive permanent change of station orders, until the students are enrolled in their new schools.
  • School districts must permit children of relocating active-duty uniformed service members to apply for enrollment in a district school before they establish residency — in the same manner and at the same time as district resident students.
  • Enrollment applications must be accepted electronically, then the family must provide proof of residence within 10 days after they establish residence in the school district. Acceptable forms of residency include a temporary on-base billeting facility, a purchased or leased home or apartment, or a federal government or public-private venture off-base military housing.

The bill was sponsored by state Representatives Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Brian Lampton (R-Beavercreek), whose districts include Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

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“It is critically important that we support our military families’ education and well-being as they transition in and out of the military installations in our state,” Lampton said.

The bill passed the Ohio House 97-0 in May. After Republicans added an unrelated amendment, limiting how schools can handle COVID safety protocols, it passed both chambers on political party lines. Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill this week.

This is one of many efforts Ohio schools have made to help military families. Dozens of local schools have won the the Purple Star Award for their commitment to military families and their students.

To win the award, schools must have a staff liaison for military students and families, who completes training on issues facing military children and communicates with their teachers. The school also must list resources for military families on their website.

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It’s common for active-duty military families to move a half-dozen times during their children’s K-12 school years, making it hard for kids to have continuity in their educational experience.

“House Bill 244 removes barriers and enables our schools to be more flexible and welcoming to families at a time in their service that can be extremely stressful,” White said.

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