Moving to a New School

Luz Adriana

February 17, 2016


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“There is always a sadness about packing. I guess you wonder if where you’re going is as good as where you’ve been.”
― Richard Proenneke, One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey

IMG_9062Military families say that if there is anything certain about a military life, is that we will be moving again. However, when you have a child with a disability or medical issues this can strike fear in your heart. As parents we feel very comfortable knowing we have created a great team to work with us to help care for our family. So what can we do to lessen the stresses of a move, to try to make everything go as we want? Three words, planning, planning and planning.

  1. Records

We talked about the importance of having a Home file. Keeping our student’s records at our hands will help in make the transition easier. If it has been a while since you have updated your records, this is a good opportunity to put them up to date.

Another thing to remember when putting together your home file or requesting records is that not all records are kept in the same place. Some records are held at the school, others may be kept at the student center, and yet others may be held by the therapists. We want to make sure we specify that we want all the records.

A good rule of thumb is to always have the receiving school request copies of the records to the sending school. This is a way to ensure the receiving school gets all the records. The sending school must complete this process within two weeks of receiving the notice, so parents should check with the school to make sure records were received.

If you have moved and you realize you don’t have a complete set of records, your child’s school can always request records from the previous school. Just remember that this will take time, so the more complete your records are, the faster your child will get the services they need.

  1. Transferring within the same state

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides guidelines for when a student moves to a new school. If the student will be moving to a school within the same state, the law states:

“In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP in effect in the same state, the LEA (school district) shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents, until such time as the school district adopts the previous IEP or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that is consistent with Federal and State law.”

  1. Transferring to a new state

However, if the student is to be moving to another state, the law states:

“In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP that was in effect in another state, the school district shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previous IEP, in consultation with the child’s parents, until such time as the district conducts an evaluation, if determined to be necessary, and develops a new IEP, if appropriate, that is consistent with Federal and State law.”

Not all things look the same; sometimes things are not called the same. I remembered when we went from Arizona to Texas and I was invited to an ARD meeting. ARD stands for Admission, Review, and Dismissal. The purpose of the ARD meeting is to provide an opportunity for parents and educators to discuss and develop an educational program for the student (the I.E.P.) For military families moving to a Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) school, I have included a link to the Special Education Procedural Guide here and at the bottom of this document.

4. Teacher’s input

I have heard from many parents who wish they could pack their teacher and take him or her with them when they move. We may not be able to take them with us, but we can have them help us make the move easier. Here are some ideas I have heard from parents and teachers:

  • Have the teacher write a letter introducing your child to their next teacher.
  • Have the teacher share what strategies they have used with your student in a variety of settings.
  • Have the students write a “Things we like about our friend” so the student has something to take along from his previous school
  • For teenage students use a peer to peer or sponsorship program.
  • Have your child read about the new place and find some special places to visit when you get there.
  • If you know anyone who lives there, ask them if your child can talk with them to dissipate any anxiety.

Have fun with the move. Do you have any ideas or things that have worked for your family when you have moved? Let us know in the comments.



Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.) –

Do you have a Home file?-

IEP in DODEA schools –

From Emotions to Advocacy –




Luz Adriana

My name is Luz Adriana Martinez and for the past 27 years I have been working in the field of advocacy for children with disabilities. I hold an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico.

I’m married to a great guy, Tito, an Army Veteran of 22 years, who supports all the crazy things I do. Being an Army wife also prepared us to be always on the move and without daddy for long periods of time. This also gave me the opportunity work and volunteer with organizations whose mission was to assist other military families. This blog results from my desire to give back to the many families that have given me and mine so much. I have had the fortune to be able to travel the world assisting military families and now that that stage of my life is over, I want to continue to share what I have learned in the hopes that I can still provide some information and resources to families who need it.

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