If you are unhappy in your high school, you may want to transfer. The Department of Education doesn’t make it easy. If you are a 9th-grader, your best bet is to re-apply to another school for 10th grade.
After 10th grade, most transfers are granted due to a hardship such as travel distance from school, safety concerns like bullying, or medical issues. But, a “guidance transfer” may also be granted if the school is not a good fit academically or socially.
Here’s a rundown:
If you’re not progressing academically or socially, you or your parent can request a guidance transfer to a different school. It’s up to the Office of Student Enrollment and the superintendent to decide whether it will be granted.
For a medical transfer, you’ll need a note from your doctor.
For a safety transfer, you may need a police report that demonstrates your health or safety is at risk.
If you move during high school and you end up with a commute of more than 75 minutes each way, you may claim a “travel hardship” and transfer to a school closer to home.
If you have a zoned high school you may transfer there if there are available seats.
If you have other reasons for leaving—you have failed lots of courses, or want to be in a more alternative program—transfer schools are another option. These tend to be smaller and are designed for students who have been unsuccessful at traditional schools. Transfer schools sometimes accept students mid-year. 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 students to graduate.
The Department of Education’s webpage about transfer schools is here. You can search for transfer schools on InsideSchools and in the DOE’s Directory of Schools and Additional Ways to Graduate.
There are referral centers to help students who want to transfer to an alternative school or program.
Bronx: (718) 518-3320 1010; Rev. James A. Polite Avenue, Room 436
Brooklyn (Bedford-Stuyvesant): (718) 636-5770; 832 Marcy Avenue, Room 501A
Brooklyn (Downtown): (718) 935-9457; 69 Schermerhorn Street
Manhattan: (212) 244-1274; 269 West 35th Street, 11th Floor
Queens: (718) 739-2100; 162-02 Hillside Avenue
Staten Island: (718) 273-3225; 450 St. Marks Place
Other ways to graduate
You are entitled to attend school until you graduate from high school or turn 21 years old.
Programs are available for older students who need to work during the day or who want to return to school after dropping out. Some high schools offer childcare to enable young parents to attend school. 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 at (917) 521-3639 or write to them at 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.
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. You have the right to tutoring or counseling that will help you be successful.
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.