Homeless Students: Enrollment Rights and Services
The purpose of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act is to ensure that each homeless child or youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youths.
To the extent possible and as required by law, the district will work with homeless students and their families to provide, stability in school attendance and other services. Special attention will be given to ensuring the attendance and equal access of homeless students so as to provide equal opportunity to succeed in school.
Definition of Homeless Student:
Any individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:
- Sharing housing of other persons due to loss of housing or economic hardship or similar reason;
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequateaccommodations;
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
- Being abandoned in hospitals;
- Awaiting foster care placement;
- Living in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings;
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations, or similar settings;
- Migratory children living in conditions described in the previous examples;
- Unaccompanied Youth—a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian,
- and not in the custody of a state agency.
District Homeless Education Liaison:
The McKinney-Vento Act requires every school district to designate a staff person to serve as the Homeless Education Liaison. The Liaison's role is to:
- Identify children in homeless situations;
- Ensure that homeless students enroll in and have a full and equal opportunity to succeed in school;
- Ensure that they receive the educational services for which they are eligible;
- Inform students and parents of educational opportunities and educational rights;
- Assist in resolving disputes; and
- Assist with and inform students and parents of transportation services.
The Superintendent will designate the Lexington Public Schools' district liaison for homeless students
School districts must immediately enroll a homeless student in school, even if they do not have the documents usually required for enrollment—such as school records, medical records, or proof of residency.
Based on the homeless student's best interest, the student can:
- Continue his/her education in his/her school of origin (the school the student attended prior to becoming homeless or in which the student was last enrolled) while homeless or until the end of the academic year in which the student obtains permanent housing and is no longer deemed homeless; or
- Enroll in the public school assigned to the attendance area in which the student is actually living.
- In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the district will assist in any placement or enrollment decision, consider the views of the unaccompanied youth, and provide the youth notice of the right to appeal the decision.
- If there is an enrollment dispute, the student or unaccompanied youth shall be immediately enrolled in the school in which enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute. The district must provide the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth with a written statement of the school placement decision and a notice of the right to appeal the decision.
- The parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth must be referred to the Homeless Education Liaison who will expeditiously carry out the dispute resolution process. The final decision in such a situation resides with Massachusetts Commissioner of Education.
- The district or enrolling school shall assist with obtaining records by contacting the school last attended by the student to obtain relevant academic or other records.
The school district will ensure that transportation is provided, at the request of the parent, guardian, unaccompanied youth, or Homeless Education Liaison, to and from the school of origin. If the student is attending school in the district where he/she temporarily lives, that district is responsible for transportation. If the school of origin is in a different district, or a homeless student is living in another district but will attend his/her school of origin in Lexington, the districts will coordinate the transportation services necessary for the student, or will divide the costs equally.
Homeless students will be provided any district services for which they are eligible, including preschool, special education, transportation services, and school nutrition programs. School officials may accept documentation that students are homeless from the Homeless Education Liaison as the determination of eligibility for free lunch.
The District Homeless Education Liaison will ensure that parents and guardians of homeless students are informed of the educational and related opportunities available to their children, including transportation to and from the school of origin, and that parents and guardians are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in their child's education.
The schools will maintain records for homeless students as are ordinarily kept for all students and such that the records are available in a timely fashion when the student enters a new school or district.