Lawmakers said the bill will help alleviate stress on military families. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)
Military families could receive new educational rights for children or dependents under a bill set to appear before the New Hampshire Senate next week.
House Bill 1653 would create a new chapter in state law to identify “military-connected students” in New Hampshire and would allow those students to attend any public school regardless of hometown.
The proposed legislation would make those children “eligible for admission to the school district of their choice,” if one of their parents has a Department of Defense-issued identification card or can show documentation that they will be deployed in the near future. Currently, all families must reside in their public school district to attend.
The bill would also require public schools to provide certain services should a student’s parent be called into duty. Under the bill, public schools would be required to offer licensed counseling services to any student whose parent is a member of the armed services and is called into active duty. Schools would be required to refer those students to state or federal support programs.
Supporters of the legislation have said it will help alleviate stress on military families, including those in the state’s National Guard.
The bill contains a number of provisions beyond public schools. It would also require that the state’s college and university system and community college systems charge in-state tuition to any spouse or child of an active member of the armed forces, even if that member were transferred out of the state. That provision would apply as long as the child or spouse “resides continuously in New Hampshire while enrolled in such a postsecondary institution,” the bill states.
And the legislation would create temporary professional licenses for members of the armed forces or their spouses who have transferred into New Hampshire – provided they held the same license in another state. Those licenses would last six months and could be renewed once.
So far, the bill has sailed through the Legislature with unanimous support, earning a voice vote in the House and a 5-0 recommendation of “ought to pass” by the Senate Education Committee. The full Senate will take up a version of the bill amended by that committee on April 20.
“This bill comprehensively addresses educational transition for military-connected dependents and provides important protections for the National Guard and the reserve component families,” said Rep. Al Baldasaro, a Londonderry Republican, in an address to the House in February.
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