New state law aims to help military families in changing schools
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina is working to make it easier for military families whose children must change schools when the families are transferred into the Palmetto State.
The new school year brings with it so much change – new supplies, new teachers, maybe even new bus routes.
A few years ago, for 1st Sgt. Juliane Becker, it also brought new schools, in a totally new state when the Army told her she and her family were headed to Fort Jackson.
“Just like anybody else, we had to make sure we had proof of residency, where we were living, which normally comes in the form of a bill,” she said.
That’s information that many military families might not have until after they move, which makes the process of enrolling their children in schools that much trickier.
“When I read the bill, I was incredibly excited. I was able to see the potential for this bill and how it would make that transition for these family members and these children so much easier,” Becker said.
A new state law, called the Military Temporary Remote School Enrollment Act, requires school districts to accept a parent’s military transfer orders electronically to sign their children up for any public school or program within the district.
“It’s just one less thing they have to worry about as they’re trying to navigate and figure out where they’re going to live and also get their kids enrolled in those extracurricular activities and things of that nature, magnet programs,” Edward Bell, the director of government affairs for the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, said.
Those programs, clubs, teams, and classes might otherwise have filled up in the time it would take military students to get enrolled, Bell said.
“It’s going to affect a ton of families,” he said.
As many as 20,000 military students are in South Carolina at any given time. The majority of them attend Richland School District Two than anywhere else, the district’s community liaison, Kelsie Carter, said.
“We know that different states and different countries have different course requirements for graduation, so this bill will allow us to get them registered, get their classes scheduled, so these kids can just move right on through to graduation,” she said.
Becker says for military families like her own, this change helps them not only support their kids. It also helps bolster the reason they came to South Carolina in the first place.
“This bill will absolutely aid soldiers and their family members coming in to be able to focus on the mission, where, on Fort Jackson, we make American soldiers,” she said.
Becker says this is going to be especially helpful for those families who are moving in the middle of the school year or are moving here from overseas because they already have so much on their plate in the first place.
That bill passed the state legislature this year without a single vote against it on the floor.
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