Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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State formalizes pact to assist military kids

By Mary Vorsino


Hawaii's participation in an interstate compact aimed at easing the transition for military children between school districts and states was made permanent Friday.

In a ceremony, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law House Bill 4, which removes a June 30 sunset on Hawaii's participation in the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission. Hawaii first joined the commission in 2009.

Thirty-nine states have adopted the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children since 2008 as a way of ensuring military kids get uniform treatment when transferring from state to state, including credit for the work they have already done.


Visit to learn about the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.

"It's an agreement between member states to ensure transitioning to Hawaii schools and from Hawaii schools is as smooth as possible," said state Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Newtown-Pearl City). "It ensures that children coming into our state are provided with the best opportunity for success."

About 8 percent of Hawaii's public school students — more than 14,000 — come from military families. Thousands more military children in the islands attend private or home school. (The compact only covers public school students.)

Military children sometimes suffer academically because, on top of the stresses of moving and the possible deployment of a parent, they might have to make up credits, retake classes or jump through other hoops when they move to a new school.

The compact covers such issues as kindergarten entrance age, special-education services, absences related to deployment activities, eligibility for student enrollment and extracurricular participation and on-time graduation.

The interstate agreement was developed by the Council of State Governments' National Center for Interstate Compacts, the Department of Defense, educators, military families and others.

Kathleen Berg, Hawaii's commissioner for the interstate compact and a retired Hawaii Air National Guard brigadier general, said the compact is about making sure military children make the "best use of their educational time."

Hawaii's local council for the compact includes six uniformed members of the military, which makes it unique because other states only have one military representative. The council also includes Department of Education officials.

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