Title X, Part C – McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act – Education for Homeless Children and Youth
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES TO IMPLEMENT THE MCKINNEY-VENTO HOMELESS ASSISTANCE ACT
In collaboration with school personnel and community organizations, the IAS Homeless liaison will identify children and youth experiencing homelessness at IAS. The liaison will train school personnel on possible indicators of homelessness, sensitivity in identifying families and youth who are experiencing homelessness, and procedures for forwarding information indicating homelessness to the liaison. The liaison will also instruct school registrars and secretaries to inquire about possible homelessness upon the enrollment and withdrawal of every student and to forward information indicating homelessness to the liaison. Community partners in identification may include: family and youth shelters, soup kitchens, motels, campgrounds, drop-in centers, the Divisions of Family and Children Services and other social service agencies, street outreach teams, faith-based organizations, truancy and attendance officers, local homeless coalitions, and legal services.
The liaison will keep data on the number of children and youth experiencing homelessness in the district, where they are living, their academic achievement (including performance on statewide and districtwide assessments), and the reasons for any enrollment delays and/or interruptions in their education or school transfers.
Each child or youth experiencing homelessness has the right to:
- Remain at his or her school of origin.
- Attend any school that houses students who live in the attendance area in which the child or youth is actually living are eligible to attend.
Maintaining a student in his/her school of origin is important for both the student and the LEA. Students who change schools have been found to have lower test scores and overall academic performance than peers who do not change schools. High mobility rates have also been shown to lower test scores for stable students. Keeping students in their schools of origin enhances their academic and social growth while permitting our schools to benefit from the increased test scores and achievement shown to result from student continuity.
Children and youth experiencing homelessness will remain at their schools of origin to the extent feasible, unless that is against the parent’s or youth’s wishes or not in the best interest of the child. Students may remain at their schools of origin the entire time they are experiencing homelessness, and until the end of any academic year in which they become permanently housed. The same applies if a child or youth loses his/her housing between academic years.
Feasibility will be a child-centered determination, based on the needs and interests of the particular student and the parent’s or youth’s wishes. Potential feasibility considerations include:
- Safety of the student.
- Continuity of instruction.
- Likely area of family’s or youth’s future housing.
- Time remaining in the academic year.
- Anticipated length of stay in temporary living situation.
- School placement of siblings.
- Whether the student has special needs that would render the commute harmful.
Services that are required to be provided, including transportation to and from the school of origin (see below) and services under federal and other programs, will not be considered in determining feasibility.
Consistent, uninterrupted education is vital for academic achievement. Due to the realities of homelessness and mobility, students experiencing homelessness may not have school enrollment documents readily available. Nonetheless, the school selected for enrollment must immediately enroll any child or youth experiencing homelessness. Enrollment may not be denied or delayed due to the lack of any document normally required for enrollment, including:
- Proof of residency.
- Transcripts/school records. (The enrolling school must contact the student’s previous school to obtain school records. Initial placement of students whose records are not immediately available can be made based on the student’s age and information gathered from the student, parent, and previous schools or teachers.)
- Immunizations or immunization/health/medical/physical records. (If necessary, the school must refer students to the liaison to assist with obtaining immunizations and/or immunization and other medical records. Health records may often be obtained from previous schools or state registries, and school-based or community-based clinics can initiate immunizations when needed.)
- Proof of guardianship.
- Birth certificate.
- Any other document requirements.
- Unpaid school fees.
- Lack of uniforms or clothing that conforms to dress codes.
- Any factor related to the student’s living situation.
Unaccompanied youth must also be immediately enrolled in school. They may either enroll themselves or be enrolled by a parent, non-parent caretaker, older sibling, or the IAS homeless liaison.
Without appropriate transportation, a student may not be able to continue attending his/her school of origin. To avoid such forced school transfers, at a parent’s request, transportation will be provided to and from the school of origin for a child or youth experiencing homelessness.
Transportation will be provided for the entire time the child or youth has a right to attend that school, as defined above, including during pending disputes. The length of the commute will only be considered in determining the feasibility of placement in the school of origin based on potential harm to the student, as discussed above. Parents and unaccompanied youth must be informed of this right to transportation before they select a school for attendance.
Schools and the homeless liaison will use the district transportation form to process transportation requests. Requests will be processed and transportation arranged without delay. If the student experiencing homelessness is residing and attending IAS, the Homeless liaison will arrange transportation. If the student experiencing homelessness is residing in Cobb County but attending school in another LEA, or attending school at IAS but living in another district, IAS will follow the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act statute to determine who must arrange transportation. It is an IAS policy that inter-district disputes will not result in a student experiencing homelessness to miss school. If such a dispute arises, IAS will arrange transportation and immediately implement the procedures for the dispute resolution.
In addition to receiving transportation to and from the school of origin upon request, children and youth experiencing homelessness will also be provided with other transportation services comparable to those offered to house students.
Children and youth experiencing homelessness will be provided services comparable to services offered to other students in the school selected, including:
- Title I, Part A
- Special education and related services and programs for English learners
- Vocational and technical education programs
- Gifted and talented programs
- School nutrition programs
- Before-school and after-school programs
IAS recognizes that children and youth experiencing homelessness suffer from disabilities at a disproportionate rate, yet frequently are not evaluated or provided appropriate special education and related services. To address this problem, evaluations of children and youth experiencing homelessness suspected of having a disability will be given priority and coordinated with students’ prior and subsequent schools as necessary to ensure timely completion of a full evaluation. When necessary, IAS will expeditiously designate a surrogate parent for unaccompanied youth suspected of having a disability. If a student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the enrolling school will immediately implement it. Any necessary IEP meetings or re-evaluations will then be conducted expeditiously. If complete records are not available, IEP teams must use good judgment in choosing the best course of action, balancing procedural requirements and the provision of services. In all cases, the goal will be to avoid any disruption in appropriate services.
When applying any IAS policy regarding tardiness or absences, any tardiness or absence related to a child’s or youth’s living situation will be excused. IAS will follow state procedures to ensure that youth experiencing homelessness and youth who are out of school are identified and accorded equal access to appropriate education and support services. School personnel will refer children and youth experiencing homelessness to appropriate health care services, including dental and mental health services. The homeless liaison will assist the school in making such referrals, as necessary.
School personnel must also inform parents of all educational and related opportunities available to their children and provide parents with meaningful opportunities to participate in their children’s education.
If a dispute arises over any issue covered in this policy, the child or youth experiencing homelessness will be immediately admitted to the school in which enrollment is sought, pending final resolution of the dispute. The student will also have the rights of a student experiencing homelessness to all appropriate educational services, transportation, free meals, and Title I services while the dispute is pending.
IAS will provide the parent or unaccompanied youth with a written explanation of its decision and the right to appeal and will immediately refer the parent or youth to the Homeless liaison. The liaison will ensure the student is enrolled in the school of his/her choice and receiving other services to which he/she is entitled and will resolve the dispute as expeditiously as possible. The parent or unaccompanied youth will be given every opportunity to participate meaningfully in the resolution process. The homeless liaison will keep records of all disputes to determine whether particular issues are repeatedly creating barriers to student enrollment and academic success.
Hunger and poor nutrition are obvious barriers to learning. To help ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness are ready to learn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that all children and youth experiencing homelessness are automatically eligible for free meals on the first day of enrollment. The USDA guidance is available at: http://www.naehcy.org/dl/usda_04_04_02.pdf.
Title I, Part A
Children and youth experiencing homelessness are automatically eligible for Title I, Part A services, regardless of the school they attend. The trauma and instability of homelessness puts students at sufficient risk of academic regression to warrant additional support. The district will reserve such funds as are necessary to provide services comparable to those provided to Title I, Part A students to children and youth experiencing homelessness who attend non-participating schools. In keeping with Title I, Part A requirements, IAS sets aside Title I, Part A, funds for homeless students. Determining an appropriate amount requires coordination between the school administration and Homeless Liaison.
The LEA Homeless liaison will conduct training and sensitivity/awareness activities for school personnel, including but not limited to administrators, registrars, teachers, social workers, counselors, bus drivers, custodians, community service providers, and social service personnel. The training and activities will be designed to increase staff awareness of homelessness, facilitate immediate enrollment, ensure compliance with McKinney-Vento law, and increase sensitivity to the unique needs of homeless children and youth.
Homeless students and their families often need housing assistance, social services, and health care. Linking families with community resources can have a positive impact on the education of children. Title I, Part A, requires targeted-assistance programs to coordinate with federal, state, and local service programs, including programs for housing, nutrition, violence prevention, Head Start, adult education, vocational and technical education, and job training. (20 UCS 63159[c][H])
Preschool education is a very important element of later academic success. Children experiencing homelessness have experienced many difficulties accessing preschool opportunities. To facilitate preschool enrollment and attendance, the provisions of this policy will apply to preschools. If the parent of a child under the age of 5 (and therefore not eligible for kindergarten which is the earliest grade offered at IAS) contacts IAS regarding special education services, IAS will refer the child and his/her family to the district he/she is zoned.
Children experiencing homelessness with disabilities will be referred for preschool services under the Individuals with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Children experiencing homelessness under age three will be referred for at-risk services under Title VI, Part C of IDEA and screened to determine if referrals for additional Title VI, Part C of IDEA services are appropriate. The IAS Homeless liaison will collaborate with Head Start and other preschool programs to ensure that children experiencing homelessness have access to those programs.
- The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§11431 – 11436
- Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 20 U.S.C
- §§6311 – 6315
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§1400 et seq
- April 6, 2002 Policy of the Child Nutrition District of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- June 5, 1992 Policy of the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
General Guidelines for the Dispute Resolution Process
McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act (42 US §11432(g)(1)(C)
Dispute Resolution Guidelines and Procedures
- Disputes will be resolved first by the Homeless Liaison.
- The dispute resolution process is designed to be as informal and accessible as possible, allowing for impartial and complete review.
- Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth should be able to initiate the resolution process directly at the school in which enrollment is sought in accordance with PL 107-110,
- 722(g)(3)(A-B) as well as at the Homeless liaison’s office. Parents, guardians and unaccompanied youth should be provided written notification of the dispute and of their right to appeal the decision of the school.
- Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth should be informed that they can provide written or oral documentation to support their position and that they can seek the assistance of advocates or attorneys.
- Written notice should be complete, as brief as possible, simply stated and provided in a language the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth can understand.
- Students are to be enrolled immediately and are to be provided with all services for which they are eligible while the dispute is being resolved.
- If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the child or youth must be immediately enrolled in the school in which he or she is seeking enrollment pending resolution of the dispute [PL 107-110, Section 722(g)(3)(E)]. Enrollment is defined as “attending classes and participating fully in school activities.” It is critical that students not be kept out of school.
- The school must refer the student, parent, or guardian to the Homeless liaison to carry out the dispute resolution process as expeditiously as possible. The Homeless liaison must ensure that the dispute resolution process is also followed for unaccompanied youth.
- IAS will provide the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth with a written explanation of the school’s decision regarding school selection or enrollment, and the parent’s or guardian’s right to appeal that decision [PL 107-110, §722(g)(3)(E)(ii)]. The written explanation will be complete, as brief as possible, simply stated, and provided in a language that the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth can understand.
- IAS has a local rule for concerned parties to resolve any disputes in regards to providing public education to a homeless child. The local rule provides for at least two levels of appeal at the district level. If the dispute remains unresolved at the district level or is appealed, then the parent may request a review of the dispute by the Deputy Superintendent of Education Support and
Improvement (“Deputy Superintendent”) at the Georgia Department of Education (Department). The Deputy Superintendent will review all materials and address the issues in the dispute within 10 days from the receipt of a written request for resolution. If the issue is not resolved after the Deputy Superintendent submits his/her written review, the Deputy Superintendent may assign members of the Department to make an on-site visit to further clarify or resolve the issue. All disputes must be resolved within 60 days of initial presentment to the Department, unless a written extension is granted.
- If the dispute remains unresolved or is appealed after the Deputy Superintendent has issued his/her decision, the State Board of Education (SBOE) will review, hear, and rule on grievances from parents, students, or local boards of education. The student, parent, guardian, or local board must submit the request in writing within 30 days of the decision of the Deputy Superintendent to the Office of Legal Services at the Department at the following address:
Office of Legal Services 2052 Twin Towers
East Atlanta, GA 30334 Tel. (404) 656-4689
FAX (404) 657-8376
The request for review must set forth the district-level decision, the decision of the Deputy Superintendent, and a concise statement of the reasons why the decision is being appealed. The SBOE, through the Office of Legal Services, will give each party a minimum of 10 days’ notice of the hearing by certified mail or personal delivery. Each party may appear at the hearing in person or by counsel, present evidence, cross examine witnesses, and present in writing or orally summary statements of position. The SBOE may request further information from the parties and Department staff. The hearing may be held by the SBOE or by a hearing officer appointed by it. The SBOE will notify the parties of its decision within 20 days of the hearing