Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to make it easier for military families to enroll their children in Illinois schools. The law eliminates many of the educational roadblocks these families face when their military assignments take them from one state to another. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to honor and support Illinois' military veterans and their families.
"We owe a debt of gratitude to our many Illinois servicemembers and their families," Governor Quinn said. "When a military family has to pick up and move to Illinois, we need to make sure the process is worry-free, especially when it comes to enrolling in a new school. This new law will ensure that our children of military parents are supported during the school transfer process so they can join their new classmates without delay."
House Bill 3939, sponsored by State Representative Eddie Lee Jackson Sr. (D-East St. Louis) and State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), streamlines the health and academic record transfer process for out-of-state elementary and high school students with one or more parents serving in the United States Armed Forces. This allows children to be enrolled in Illinois schools at any time during the year without unnecessary delays. The law also updates Illinois' portion of the Educational Opportunity for Military Children Act regarding such issues as non-custodial parents, tuition, educational records, enrollment age, course placement, graduation, extracurricular activities and absences related to deployment activities. The law is effective immediately.
"Men and women who move to our state to serve in the military are making huge sacrifices to protect our freedoms," Representative Jackson said. "This legislation helps make sure that their families have the support that they need to make their transitions as smooth as possible. Students who transfer schools because of their parents' active duty status should not have barriers preventing them from enrolling in schools or participating in school sports and activities."
"These families give up so much in order to serve in our military," Senator Bush said. "The least we can do is ensure that school transfers are as easy on their children as possible."
Throughout his career, Governor Quinn has made commitment to veterans, servicemembers and their families a top priority. He initiated the Illinois Veterans Grant and Illinois National Guard Grant, which cover tuition at all Illinois public universities and community colleges for eligible veterans and serving National Guard members.
The Governor has also championed the Military Family Relief Fund, which has provided more than $15.1 million in support to families of deployed National Guard and Reserve servicemembers since its inception 10 years ago. He also required colleges to post all benefits available to Illinois veterans and assign a staff member to serve as the point of contact for student-veterans who need information and assistance.
Additionally, in 2012, Governor Quinn and the Departments of Veterans and Military Affairs spearheaded the statewide public-private partnership, Illinois Joining Forces, which has been a model for other states to follow. The program Families, Children, and Survivors Working Group has been effectively collaborating to make sure Illinois is addressing the needs of military families and children here in Illinois.