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JFABD - McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act Policy

Policy JFABD

Adopted: March 4, 2010
Amended: March 25, 2021

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PURPOSE

The goal 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 that is provided to other children and youths, including a public preschool education. It has most recently been reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). As required by law, the district will work with homeless children and youth and unaccompanied youth  (collectively, "homeless students") as well as their families or legal guardians to provide stability in school attendance and other services. Special attention will be given to ensuring the enrollment and attendance of homeless students not currently attending school. Homeless students will be provided district services for which they are eligible, including Head Start and comparable pre-school programs, Title I, similar state programs, special education, bilingual education, vocational and technical education programs, gifted and talented programs, school nutrition programs, summer programming and extracurricular activities.

Homeless students are defined as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, including:

1.  Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason;

2.  Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;

3.  Living in emergency or transitional shelters;

4.  Being abandoned in hospitals;

5.  Living in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings;

6.  Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations or similar settings; and

7.  Migratory children living in conditions described in the previous examples.

Students Remaining in Schools of Origin

It is presumed to be in the best interest of homeless students to remain in their schools of origin, i.e. the school that the student was attending at the time he or she became homeless, or the last school the student attended prior to becoming homeless.  Homeless students may continue to attend their school of origin for as long as they remain homeless or until the end of the academic year in which they obtain permanent housing.  For homeless students who complete the final grade level served by the school of origin, the term "school of origin" shall also include the receiving school in the same school district educating students at the next grade level.  

Homeless students are entitled to transportation comparable to that provided for all other students attending school in the district.  The district will transport students who are sheltered or temporarily residing within the district to the students' school of origin.  For homeless students attending a school of origin located outside the district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing, the district in which the school of origin is located will coordinate with the district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing to provide the transportation services necessary for the student, and these districts will agree upon a method to apportion responsibility and costs for transportation to the school of origin. If the districts cannot agree upon such a method, the responsibility and the costs must be shared equally.  If the homeless student continues to live in the area served by the district in which the school of origin is located, that district must provide or arrange transportation if needed. Students who have been homeless during the school year and find permanent housing mid-school-year have the right to remain enrolled in their school of origin with transportation if needed through the end of the school year.

The district will ensure that the parent or guardian of a homeless student or unaccompanied youth, is fully informed, in the language of the home, of all transportation services, including transportation to the school of origin, and is assisted in accessing transportation to the school selected.

 Students Enrolling in District Where Sheltered or Temporarily Residing

Parents or guardians may elect to enroll homeless students in the school district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing, rather than having the student remain in the school of origin.  Enrollment changes for homeless students should take place immediately.  

If homeless students are unable to provide written proof of their shelter or temporary residence in the district, the homeless liaison will work with the family seeking enrollment to determine homelessness.  Information regarding a homeless student's living arrangement shall be considered a student education record, and not directory information.  Records containing information about the homeless student's living arrangement may not be disclosed without the consent of the parent or satisfaction of another student-privacy related exemption.

If the student does not have immediate access to immunization records, the student shall be permitted to enroll under a personal exception. Students and families should be encouraged to obtain current immunization records or immunizations as soon as possible, and the district liaison is directed to assist.  Emergency contact information is required at the time of enrollment consistent with district policies, including compliance with the state's address confidentiality program when necessary.  After enrollment, the district will immediately request available records from the student's previous school.

Attendance rights by living in attendance areas, other student assignment policies, or intra and inter-district choice options are available to homeless families on the same terms as families who reside in the district.  Accordingly, the district will provide transportation services to school in a manner comparable to the transportation provided for all other students in the district.

Dispute Resolution   

If the district disagrees with a parent or guardian's decision to keep a student enrolled in the school of origin and considers enrollment in the district where the student is sheltered or temporarily residing to be in the student's best interest, the district will explain to the parent, in writing and in a language the parent can understand,  the rationale for its determination and provide parent with written notice of their rights to appeal the district's determination to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  During the pendency of any such appeal, the student should remain enrolled in the school selected by the parent or guardian, receiving transportation to school and access to other available services and programs.   

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Advisory on Homeless Education Assistance contains additional information about educating homeless students and the appeal process.  

Homeless Liaison      

The Superintendent shall designate an appropriate staff person to be the district's liaison for homeless students and their families, in Hopkinton the Director of Student Services.  The district's liaison for homeless students and their families shall coordinate with: (1)  local social service agencies that provide services to homeless children and youths and their families, including referrals for health care, dental services, mental health, and other appropriate services in the community; (2) other school districts on issues of transportation and records transfers; and (3) state and local housing agencies responsible for comprehensive housing affordability strategies. This coordination includes providing public notice of the educational rights of homeless students in locations such as schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens. 

The district's liaison will also review and recommend amendments to district policies that may act as barriers to the enrollment of homeless students.  

The liaison will be responsible for informing unaccompanied youth of their status as independent students and will provide them with verification of that status for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

The liaison shall ensure district staff receives professional development and other support on issues involving homeless students.

Legal References
The McKinney-Vento Act and Title I, Part A, as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Policy Cross-Reference
JF - School Admissions and Residency Requirements
JEB - Requirements for School Entrance
JFABK - Educational Opportunities for Children in Foster Care 
JFABE - Educational Opportunities for Children of Military Families 
Procedure Reference
Source: MASC October 2019

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