How to transfer
If you are unhappy in your high school, you may want to transfer. Unfortunately, the Department of Education doesn’t make it easy. If you are a 9th grader, your best bet is to reapply to another school for 10th grade.
After 10th grade, transfers are generally granted only in cases of emergency. (The same goes for midyear transfers.) You’ll need a note from your doctor or a police report that demonstrates your health or safety is at risk if you stay at your current school.
If you move during high school and you end up with a very long commute (more than 90 minutes each way), you may claim a “travel hardship” and transfer to a school closer to home. Get your guidance counselor to help, or go to a borough enrollment center.
If you have other reasons for leaving—you are simply miserable, or you have failed lots of courses, or you need to take care of a family member—transfer alternative schools are another option. These are designed for students who have been unsuccessful at traditional schools. Transfer schools sometimes accept students midyear. They tend to be very small. You apply to these schools directly—not through the regular high school admissions office. Some transfer schools are demanding, academically challenging schools that prepare students for college. Others focus on the basics: just getting kids to graduate.
You are entitled to attend school until you graduate from high school or turn 21 years old. Some schools will encourage older students to leave and take a GED (general educational development) test, but it is your right to work for a regular Regents diploma, which is more valued than a GED.
Other ways to graduate
A number of programs are available for older students who need to work during the day or who want to return to school after dropping out or who need to work during the day. Some high schools offer child care to enable young mothers to attend school while their babies are looked after. The Department of Education website has an extensive list of these alternative programs. For more information, call the District 79 Office of Student Support Services (917) 521-3639 (4360 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10033).
The Office of Adult and Continuing Education offers GED preparation, English as a second language and career education programs for adults who are 21 years of age or older. Call (917) 521-3789.
Discharges and involuntary transfers
Your school administration may suggest that you transfer to another school if, for example, you can’t keep up with the academic work. However, the school may not force you to leave except in very limited circumstances. You have the right to tutoring or counseling that will help you be successful in your current school. If your school wants you to leave and you want to stay, look at the regulations for an “involuntary transfer” before you agree.
In some cases, a child who has been suspended for bad behavior may be transferred to another school against his wishes. If you lied about your address when you enrolled, you may be transferred to your zoned school.
It is wrong for a school to discharge a student when the student or parent objects. And it’s illegal for a school to discharge a student between the ages of 17 and 21 without parental consent and appropriate exit-interview procedures. Schools are supposed to notify students and their parents of the right to attend school until the age of 21.