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School District Aims to Ease Transitions For Military Children

Camp Pendleton Patch - May 29, 2011, By Maggie Avants

The district has created an advisory committee with the goal of putting a policy in place that will ease transition issues faced by Military families.

Of military families based at Camp Pendleton, only about 40 percent live on base. A vast majority live in communities, mainly Murrieta and Temecula.

They also move, on average, every 2.9 years, said Maria Swanson, a school liaison officer for Camp Pendleton's School Liaison Office.

Swanson's husband and son are both enlisted, so she knows. What Swanson does is work with school districts on behalf of Military children, with the purpose of easing transition issues faced by military families.

During a recent school board meeting, Swanson shared with Murrieta Valley Unified School District administrators what the four main transition issues faced by Military families are. These include enrollment, placement, student attendance when military parents are on block leave or being deployed, athletic eligibility and graduation requirements.

"When a child shows up in the second semester of their senior year and they are coming from Okinawa but the school is asking for community service hours, perhap they can offer choices so they can still graduate on time," Swanson said.

California is one of 36 states that have entered an Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The goal of the compact is to replace the widely varying policies that affect these military students with a consistent policy in every school district and in every state, according to a staff report.

"That is what the compact is all about, flexibility and creativity, and that is what our office is there for," Swanson said.

The compact was developed by the Department of Defense, with input and assistance from the Council of State Governments, federal and state officials, state departments of education and school district superintendents.

Superintendent Stan Scheer said he believes there are approximately 750 Military students in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.

"And there's probably more that haven't identified themselves," Scheer said.

Scheer said the district began focusing on the issue about a year ago, and has created an advisory committee that includes Military parents. The committee is charged with coming up with a policy that it will then forward to the school board for approval.

Next year, Scheer said the goal is to appoint a staff member as the Military liaison. He encouraged Military families to come forward and identify themselves.

Board President Paul Diffley approved of the strides the district is taking to help Military children during their time spent in the district.

"The troops have enough on their plates without having to worry about home," Diffley said.

To learn more about the ?Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children?, ?click here.


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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.