Moving to a new location can be exciting, but it can also present challenges if you have school-age children.
Whether your move is taking your child to a different school system, a different state altogether or simply a different school within your current school district, it might be a good idea to map out a plan of action before you move.
Here are some reminders and basic things to consider when moving with your children to a new area.
Keep the kids informed. Involving your children in the process of choosing and attending a new school can make the transition less stressful for your child and yourself. Get information about the school in the community where you are moving to and share it with them. Help them look at what’s going on and how things run at the school.
Enrollment. Find out when and where the new student registration will happen. This could be an online process or paper/pencil in the front office.
Visit the new school, if you can. Ask for a tour of the building to help your kids learn about this new place.
Talk with the teachers. If you are moving in the middle of the school year, speak with the new school and, if possible, the new teachers to determine if your children will need to do any catch-up work so that they are on par with the other children when they arrive.
Get to and from school. If your child is riding the bus, get signed up and learn the pickup/drop-off schedule. Discuss with your children where you will pick them up and drop them off, which way to walk if they are walking, or where the bus stops are located.
Language. If English isn’t your or your child’s first language, ask the school about support programs and services that can help.
Things you should know
In the majority of school districts in Pennsylvania, a child must be 5 years of age prior to Sept. 1 of the school year in which she/he seeks admission. The age and cut-off dates are identified by each school district and may be different from one district to another.
Students can be enrolled by a parent, foster parent, guardian, caseworker or anyone having charge or care of the child. They can attend school in the school district where they live with their parent or guardian, or where they live with a district resident who has charge or care of them.
When Pennsylvania residents who are military personnel are deployed, and their school-age children are living with relatives or family friends in a school district for that period of time, the children are entitled to attend school in the school district in which they are residing.
Districts must provide translation and interpretation services to children and families with limited English proficiency to the extent needed to help the family understand the enrollment process and enroll the student in school promptly.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health requires students to receive certain vaccines in order to attend school. Contact your district for a list of required vaccinations, and consult with your child’s physician to make sure his/her shots are up-to-date.
The students are also required to have a dental examination upon entrance to school in K5 or grade 1, and in grades 3 and 7. It is recommended that the family dentist does this examination.
To register your child, go to the central registration office in the school district where you live. You will need to provide:
• Proof of the child’s age. Bring in one of the following: birth certificate; notarized copy of birth certificate; baptismal certificate; copy of the record of baptism – notarized or duly certified and showing the date of birth; notarized statement from the parents or another relative indicating the date of birth; a valid passport; a prior school record indicating the date of birth.
• Proof of where you live. The school districts typically accept any of the following documents as proof of where you live: a deed, a lease, current utility bill, current credit card bill, property tax bill, vehicle registration, driver’s license, DOT identification card. A district may require that more than one form of residency confirmation be provided.
* The traditional requirements of ‘residency’ do not apply in the case of homeless students.
• The child’s immunization records. Acceptable documentation includes: either the child’s immunization record, a written statement from the former school district or from a medical office that the required immunizations have been administered, or that a required series is in progress, or verbal assurances from the former school district or a medical office that the required immunizations have been completed, with records to follow.
• Parent Registration Statement. A sworn statement attesting to whether the student has been or is suspended or expelled for offenses involving drugs, alcohol, weapons, infliction of injury or violence on school property must be provided for a student to be admitted to any school entity. However, a school district may not deny or delay a child’s school enrollment based on the information contained in a disciplinary record or sworn statement. If a student is expelled from school for a weapons offense, the school district can provide the student with alternative education services during the period of expulsion.
Some school districts might ask for additional documentation such as picture identification, proof of guardianship or custody, Social Security card, health or physical examination records, academic records, attendance records, individualized education and other special education records.
Once all documents have been provided, the school has five business days to enroll your child.
If your child is transferring from another school district, the old district has 10 business days to provide academic records to the new school.