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New Coordinating Group Formed to Support Education for Children of Military Families

November 5, 2015


LANSING – The Michigan Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children has begun its work to support over 3,600 children of active military members in Michigan.

The Council, in accordance with Public Act 260 of 2008 (MCL 3.1041), provides coordination among Michigan’s government and education agencies, and military installations concerning Michigan’s participation in, and compliance with, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. 

The Council will meet on an annual basis, prior to the national compact meeting. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children has been adopted by all 50 states, with each state appointing a state Compact Commissioner.

Governor Rick Snyder appointed Col. (Retired) Russ Gullett as the Compact Commissioner of Michigan in September 2014.  Col. Gullett currently is the Senior Deputy Director for State Operations for the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. As Commissioner, he is responsible for the administration and management of the state’s participation in the Compact.

Other appointed members to Michigan’s Council include: State Superintendent Brian Whiston; State Senator David Knezek; U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Retired) Louis Burgess, Assistant Director Office of School Support Services at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE); U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Winston, Michigan State University; U.S. Navy Reserve Captain Edwardeen Jones, the Troops-to-Teachers Program Manager at MDE; and Karl Paulson, Superintendent at St. Clair Shores Lakeview Public Schools.

The Michigan Council was created to help address local issues involving military children as they move from state to state and transfer between school districts.  During its initial meeting held at the Michigan Department of Education, the Council approved by-laws, elected officers and heard an overview of issues facing military children in Michigan.

The Council appointed Kevin Walters, Supervisor of Grants Coordination and School Support at MDE, as the state’s Military Family Education Liaison.  The Education Liaison is the point of contact for assisting military families with educational issues, such as eligibility for transfer and enrollment, student records, immunization, kindergarten and first grade entrance, and graduation requirements. 

Walters outlined for the Council two recent issues involving children of military personnel.  One concerned a family moving from a military base in Texas with a student expected to be going into 12th grade.  Initial grade placement of the military child was less than the parents expected.  Another situation involved a U.S Coast Guard member who was transferred to New Jersey from Michigan and release of records of the military child from the sending district.  In both instances, MDE coordinated between the family, the school district and applicable Compact sections that allowed for an efficient and effective resolution.

In addition to the appointed Council members, several statewide education organizations were represented at the meeting, including: Paul Liabenow (Executive Director, Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association); Dr. Tina Kerr (Deputy Executive Director, Michigan Association of School Administrators); Jeff Jennette (Superintendent, Wexford-Missaukee ISD, representing the Michigan Association. of Intermediate School Administrators); Donna Boughner (Principal, Grayling High School, representing the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals); and Emily Fritz (Counselor, Bath Schools, representing the Michigan School Counselors Association).