COLUMBUS — At an event celebrating the Month of the Military Child at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria announced the creation of the Purple Star Award for military-friendly schools. Ohio now will distinguish schools across the state that show a commitment to serving military-connected students and families.
“It’s our honor to support these students and their families and provide them with the resources they need to be successful,” said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction. “We look forward to an ongoing partnership with Ohio’s schools to improve services for our military families.”
“Ohio is proud to be called home by nearly 900,000 veterans and members of the military – the sixth-largest veteran population in the country,” said John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. “Having our schools committed to serving those students and families with military connections is just one way that we can say ‘thank you’ and give back to the veterans and service members who have already given so much for their country and our freedom.”
“School communities have a direct impact on military kids’ success in the classroom and the community, said Department of Veterans Services Director Col. Chip Tansill. “The Purple Star Award is an excellent way to recognize schools with best practices for supporting Ohio’s youngest military family heroes.”
“We are grateful for the Ohio Department of Education’s continued commitment to our military families. The Purple Star distinction lets our military-connected students know they are not alone, that there are educators who understand the unique challenges faced by students in a military family and they’re committed to the students’ success,” said Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman, Ohio adjutant general.
Gov. John Kasich directed Ohio’s state agencies to help improve the lives of service members and their families. During the last year, groups of veterans, educators, family members, students, service members and others came together to identify ways schools can better serve military students and families. The Purple Star Award is a direct result of these conversations.
The Purple Star Advisory Board, formed by the Ohio departments of Education, Higher Education, Veterans Services and the Adjutant General, will help determine a school’s eligibility for the award. To receive the honor, schools must apply and meet specific criteria, including providing a staff liaison for military families. The liaison must complete professional development on special considerations provided to military students and families under federal law. The complete criteria for the award is available here.
A Purple Star school will receive the designation for two years. After two years, the school must reapply. The Purple Star emblem was selected because purple symbolizes support for military families.
There are 34,000 children in Ohio with one or more parents serving in the military. This number includes the children of active duty, reserve and Ohio National Guard members. Some of these children will attend six to nine different schools throughout their K-12 educational experiences. Besides changing schools often, a student also can be affected by a parent’s deployment. Schools can help students and families face these issues by connecting them with the resources they need.
The Ohio Department of Education oversees the state’s public education system, which includes public school districts, joint vocational school districts and charter schools.