In most situations, if a family moves out of the town they live in, school-age children will have to change to a school in the town where they moved. In certain situations, such as when a child does not have fixed, adequate, and regular housing or has been placed in a foster home, specific laws and rules apply that would permit them to remain in their current school despite moving. Under New Jersey law [N.J.S.A. 18A:38-1.1], a student may be allowed to remain in their school for the rest of the school year (or their summer program) if they move from their school district due to a “family crisis.” Some examples of what might be considered a family crisis include:
If your family has recently moved due to a family crisis and you think that your child/children may have the right to remain in their current school, this article will explain your child’s rights under this law.
I think this law applies to my child. What should I do?
Let your child’s school district know that you have moved due to a family crisis and that you want your child to stay in school until the end of the school year (or summer program).
What if the school district does not believe me?
The school district is allowed to ask you to show them documents that support that you moved due to a family crisis. Examples include newspaper articles, insurance claims, police or fire reports, letters from medical providers, custody agreements, or other legal documents. The school district is not permitted to require certain types of documentation.
While the school district is reviewing my documents, where does my child attend school?
While the school district is reviewing your request, your child has the right to remain in their school and receive transportation.
What if the school district does not agree there was a “family crisis”?
If the school district does not agree that your situation meets the requirements of the law, they must let you know in writing. The written notification must state that you have the right to appeal the decision within 21 calendar days of the date you received the notification. It must also let you know that if you appeal and your appeal is denied, you could be charged the cost of transportation for the period your child was found not to be eligible to remain in the school.
How do I appeal?
Send a written request and include any supporting documentation to the county superintendent in the county where the school district is located. See County Information & Services (from the New Jersey Department of Education), for a list of the county superintendents and their contact information. Within 30 calendar days of receiving your request, the county superintendent must decide if your situation is a family crisis. During this time, your child has the right to remain in school and continue to receive transportation. If the county superintendent decides that your situation was not a family crisis, you could be required to pay the cost of transportation for the period of ineligible attendance.
Can I appeal the county superintendent’s decision?
Yes, you can file a petition for appeal with the NJ Department of Education’s Bureau of Controversies and Disputes within 90 calendar days of the county decision. During the appeal process, there is no automatic right for continued enrollment or transportation, but you may be able to seek emergent relief when you file your petition. For more information about the appeal process and emergent relief requests, see Frequently Asked Questions: Controversies and Disputes (from the New Jersey Department of Education).
This information last reviewed: Aug 30, 2023