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 Dear Judy,

I will be leaving on sabbatical to India next year, Sept and Oct. 2015. My child will be going into 6th grade. I am wondering if I can take her out for these two months and get an educational plan from the DOE, so upon our return, my child will have an easy transition back into her school?

Sabbatical mom

Dear Sabbatical mom,

Of course you may take your child out of school for two months.  And, she has a right to re-enter the school when you return, providing that it is her zoned school. Here’s the rub: some principals may not agree that two months in India is an extraordinary educational experience!  So if she is going to enter a middle school through a choice process, persuasion is in order and planning ahead is essential to bring this off. 

As you take part in the middle school choice process, see if you can find out the mind set of the principal and teachers of the schools you try for.  Don’t reveal your hand  but you might ask questions such as, “how much experiential  learning is part of the curriculum?”  and,  “how important is attendance  to your grading system?”   Because the middle school choice process may not be over until late in the school year, you may not know which school she is going to enter until near the end of June. Don’t bring up your request until you are sure you have a comfortable school placement and that you are registered. Then contact the principal with you proposal.

Here’s what you should bargain for – essentially a “delayed entry” plan.

A: Your daughter’s right to re-enter the school after the trip to India,

B: A fruitlful use of her time in India, through, for instance, daily entries in a journal, observing  the  country and its culture and answering  the same questions that the class is asking about the country or culture they are studying.  

D. A reading list

E. Math and other assignments from the teacher –or maybe a good friend-- via e-mail. 

F.  Her absences are marked as excused in the ATS record.

If this does not work, you should consider a plan to register at your zoned middle school before you leave, so that her right to a return is secure. 

Good luck on what should be an exciting adventure.

Judy Baum