Education of Homeless Children and Youth
The parent/person in parental relation to a homeless child; or the homeless child, together with the homeless liaison designated by the School District in the case of an unaccompanied youth; or the director of a residential program for runaway and homeless youth established pursuant to Executive Law Article 19-H, in consultation with the homeless child, where such homeless child is living in such program, may designate either the school district of current location, the school district of origin, or a school district participating in a regional placement plan as the district the homeless child shall attend.
Pursuant to Commissioner's Regulations, a "homeless child" means a child or youth who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including a child who is:
Sharing the housing of other persons due to a loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason;
Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
Abandoned in hospitals;
Awaiting foster care placement; or
A migratory child who qualifies as homeless in accordance with Commissioner's Regulations. As defined in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the term "migratory child" includes a child who is, or whose parent or spouse is, a migratory agricultural worker, including a migratory dairy worker, or a migratory fisher, and who has moved from one school district to another in the preceding 36 months, in order to obtain, or accompanies such parent or spouse in order to obtain, temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural or fishing work.
A child or youth who has a primary nighttime location that is:
1. A supervised, publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations including, but not limited to, shelters operated or approved by the state or local department of social services, and residential programs for runaway and homeless youth established pursuant to Executive Law Article 19-H; or
2. A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; including a child or youth who is living in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station or similar setting.
Considered an "unaccompanied youth":
1. An unaccompanied youth is a homeless child (for whom no parent or person in parental relation is available) or youth not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian.
2. An unaccompanied youth shall not include a child or youth who is residing with someone other than a parent or legal guardian for the sole reason of taking advantage of the schools of the district.
The term "homeless child" shall not include a child in foster care or receiving educational services pursuant to Education Law Sections 3202(4), (5), (6), (6a) or (7) or pursuant to Articles 81, 85, 87 or 88. For example, a child in a family home at board, a school for the mentally retarded, a hospital or other institution for the care, custody and treatment of children; youths under the direction of the Division for Youth incarcerated in county correctional facilities or youth shelters; or children residing in child care institutions or schools for the deaf or blind would not be considered "homeless."
Enrollment, Retention and Participation in the Educational Program
Enrollment of homeless children shall not be delayed and their ability to continue or participate in the educational program shall not be restricted due to issues such as:
Birth certificates, medical records, individualized education programs (IEPs), school records and other documentation;
Comprehensive assessment and advocacy referral processes;
Resolution of disputes regarding school selection;
Proof of social security numbers;
Sports participation rules;
Inability to pay fees associated with extracurricular activities such as club dues and sports uniforms; or
Other enrollment issues.
Educational Programs and Services
The School District shall provide homeless children and youth with access to all of its programs, activities and services to the same extent that they are provided to resident students.
Homeless children and youth shall be educated as part of the school's regular academic program. Services must be provided to homeless children and youth through programs and mechanisms that integrate homeless children and youth with their non-homeless counterparts, including programs for special education, vocational and technical education, gifted and talented students, before and after school, English language learners/limited English proficiency, Head Start, Even Start, and school nutrition. Services provided with McKinney-Vento funds must expand upon or improve services provided as part of the regular school program. Consequently, the School District shall ensure that homeless children and youth are not segregated in a separate school, or in a separate program within the school, based on their status as homeless; and to the extent feasible consistent with the requirements of Commissioner's Regulations, keep a homeless child or youth in the school of origin except when doing so is contrary to the wishes of the child's or youth's parent or guardian. Further, the School District shall review and revise policies and practices, including transportation guidelines, that may act as barriers to the enrollment, attendance, school success, and retention of homeless children and youth in the School District.
All homeless children and youth are automatically eligible for Title I Part A services whether or not they meet the academic standards or live in a Title I school attendance area. Homeless students may receive Title I educational or support services from schoolwide and targeted-assistance school programs.
If the local social service district or the Office of Children and Family Services is not required to provide transportation, the designated district is responsible for the provision and the cost of the student's transportation. Where a homeless student designates the school district of current location as the district the student will attend, then that district shall provide transportation to the student on the same basis as a resident student. Where the homeless student designates the school district of origin or a school district participating in a regional placement plan, then that district must provide transportation to and from the homeless child's temporary housing and school.
Transportation responsibilities apply to all school districts regardless of whether or not they receive McKinney-Vento funds.
If the designated district provides transportation for non-homeless preschool children, it must also provide comparable transportation services for homeless preschool children.
School District Liaison for Homeless Children and Youth
The School District shall designate an appropriate staff person, who may also be a coordinator for other federal programs, as the local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youth to carry out the duties as enumerated in law, Commissioner's Regulations and applicable guidance issued,by the U.S. and New York State Education Departments. The District will inform school personnel, local service providers and advocates of the office and duties of the local homeless liaison.
The District will train all school enrollment staff, secretaries, school counselors, school social workers, and Principals on the legal requirements for enrollment. School nutrition staff, school registered professional nurses, teachers, and bus drivers will receive training on homelessness that is specific to their field.
The District will make every effort to inform the parents or guardians of homeless children and youth of the education, transportation and related opportunities available to their children including transportation to the school of origin. The parent(s)/guardian(s) will be assisted in accessing transportation to the school they select, and will be provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children. Public notice of educational rights of homeless children and youth will be disseminated by the District in places where families and youth are likely to be present (e.g., schools, shelters, soup kitchens), and in comprehensible formats (e.g., geared for low literacy or other community needs).
The District shall establish procedures for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding school selection or enrollment of a homeless child or youth and provide a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal to the parent or guardian if the School District sends the student to a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent or guardian. These disputes shall include, but are not limited to, disputes regarding transportation and/or a child's or youth's status as a homeless child or unaccompanied youth.
If there is a factual dispute over whether a student is homeless, the District will immediately enroll the student and then provide the parent/guardian the opportunity to submit verification of homelessness. The student will remain enrolled until a final determination is made by the District and for a minimum of thirty (30) days after the final determination to allow the parent/guardian opportunity to appeal to the Commissioner of Education. If the student files an appeal that contains a request for a stay within thirty (30) days of such final determination, the District must continue to enroll the student until the Commissioner rules on the stay request.
Record and Reporting Requirements
If the District, as the school district of origin, receives a request to forward student records to a receiving district, the records must be forwarded within five (5) days.The School District shall maintain documentation regarding all aspects of the District's contact with and services provided to homeless students and youth for possible on-site monitoring by the State Education Department.
The District shall collect and transmit to the Commissioner of Education, at such time and in the manner as the Commissioner may require, a report containing such information as the Commissioner determines is necessary to assess the educational needs of homeless children and youths within the state.