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.
You can search for transfer schools on InsideSchools and learn about other ways to graduate on the DOE's website.
There are referral centers to help students who want to transfer to an alternative school or program.
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 such as Young Adult Borough Centers and high school equivalency options.
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.
Know your rights. 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.