Policy 5060: Education of Students in Temporary housing and Unaccompanied Youth
Students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth (“homeless”) face unique challenges. The District will provide these students with access to the same free, appropriate public education, and other school programs and activities, including preschool education, as other children and youth; ensure access to educational and other services necessary to be successful in school; and ensure that they are not separated from the mainstream school environment. The District is committed to eliminating barriers to the identification, enrollment, attendance, or the success of homeless students.
Definition of Student in Temporary Housing (Homeless Child) and Unaccompanied Youth
Pursuant to McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (“McKinney-Vento”), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), Education Law §3209(1)(a), and 8 NYCRR §100.2(x)(1)(iii) a homeless child is defined as:
- A child or youth who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including a child or youth who is:
- Sharing the housing of other persons due to a loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled-up”); or
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; or
- Abandoned in hospitals; or
- A migratory child as defined in §1309(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the ESSA, who qualifies as homeless under any of the provisions of clauses (i) through (iii), above, or subparagraph two, below;
- An unaccompanied youth as defined in McKinney-Vento, as a homeless youth who is not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. This term does 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.
- A child or youth who has a primary nighttime location that is:
- 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 program for runaway and homeless youth established in accordance with Executive Law Article 19-H; or
- 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, train station, or similar setting; or
A designator will decide which school district a student in temporary housing or unaccompanied youth will attend. A designator is:
- The parent or person in parental relation to a student in temporary housing; or
- The student in temporary housing, together with the McKinney-Vento liaison designated by the District, in the case of an unaccompanied youth; or
- The director of a residential program for runaway and homeless youth, in consultation with the student in temporary housing, where such student is living in that program.
The designator may select 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 student in temporary housing will attend. However the designated school district must determine whether the designation made by the parent, guardian, or youth, in the case of an unaccompanied youth, is consistent with the best interest of the child by considering certain student-centered factors, including factors related to the impact on education and the health and safety of the child or youth.
School of origin is:
- The public school that the child or youth attended when permanently housed or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled, including a preschool or a charter school;
- The designated receiving school at the next grade level for all feeder schools for a student in temporary housing who completes the final grade level served by the school of origin; and
- The public school or preschool in which such child would have been entitled or eligible to attend based on such child’s last residence before the circumstances arose which caused such child to become homeless if the child becomes homeless after such child is eligible to apply, register, or enroll in the public preschool or kindergarten or if the child is living with a school-age sibling who attends school in the school district of origin.
Feeder school means:
- a preschool whose students are entitled to attend a specified elementary school or group of elementary schools upon completion of that preschool; or
- a school whose students are entitled to attend a specified elementary, middle, intermediate, or high school or group of specified elementary, middle, intermediate, or high schools upon completion of the terminal grade of such school; or
- a school that sends its students to a receiving school in a neighboring school district.
Receiving school means:
- a school that enrolls students from a specified or group of preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, intermediate schools, or high schools; or
- a school that enrolls students from a feeder school in a neighboring local educational agency.
Preschool means a publicly funded prekindergarten program or a Head Start program administered by the District and/or services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act administered by the District.
A student in temporary housing is entitled to attend school in the school district of origin, the school in the district of location that he/she is entitled to attend based on attendance zone or general eligibility, or a school in a district participating in a regional placement plan. Such schools include preschools. The child is entitled to attend the designated school district on a tuition–free basis for the duration of his or her homelessness. If the child becomes permanently housed, the child is entitled to continue to attend in the same school building until the end of the school year and for one additional year if that year constitutes the child’s terminal year in that building. If a student in temporary housing completes the final grade level in his/her school of origin, the child may also attend the designated receiving school at the next grade level.
Enrollment, Retention and Participation in the Educational Program
The District will immediately enroll and provide full participation of students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth even if the child missed any relevant application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness. The ability of a student in temporary housing or unaccompanied youth to continue or participate in the educational program will similarly not be restricted due to uses such as:
- Immunization requirements;
- Residency requirements;
- Birth certificates, medical records, individualized education programs (IEPs), school records or other documentation;
- Guardianship issues;
- Comprehensive assessment and advocacy referral processes;
- Resolution of disputes regarding school selection;
- Attendance requirements;
- 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 District will provide students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth with access to all of its programs, activities and services to the same extent that they are provided to resident students.
Students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth will be educated as part of the school’s regular academic program. Services will be provided to such children and youth through programs and mechanisms that integrate students in temporary housing and youth with their non-homeless counterparts, including programs for special education, vocational and technical education, before and after school programs, summer educational programs, English language learners, and school nutrition. Services provided with McKinney-Vento funds will expand upon or improve services provided as part of the regular school program. Consequently, the District will ensure that students in temporary housing and unaccompanied 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 student in temporary housing or unaccompanied youth in the school of origin except when doing so is contrary to the wishes of the child’s or unaccompanied youth’s parent or guardian. Further, the District will review and revise policies and practices, including transportation guidelines as well as those related to outstanding fees, fines, or absences that may act as barriers to the enrollment, attendance, school success, and retention of students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth in the District.
In order to ensure immediate enrollment, and not to create barriers to the attendance, retention and success of students in temporary housing, transportation must be promptly provided (e.g., within 3 days).
- A social services district is responsible for providing transportation to students in temporary housing, including preschool students and students with disabilities who are eligible for benefits under Social Services Law §350-j and placed in a temporary housing arrangement outside of their designated district. Where the social services district requests that the District provide or arrange for transportation for such students in the above circumstances, the District shall provide or arrange for the transportation and directly bill the social services district.
- If the local social services district or the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is not required to provide transportation, the designated district is responsible for the provision and the cost of the student’s transportation through the remainder of the school year in which the student in temporary housing becomes permanently housed and for one additional year if that year constitutes the child’s terminal year in the school building.
- If the District is the designated school district of attendance, the District will provide for the transportation of each student in temporary housing who is living in a residential program for runaway and homeless youth, including if the temporary housing is located outside of the District. The costs for transportation for each such student will be reimbursed by NYSED to the extent funds are provided for such purpose, with the submission of a Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Transportation Program Form (“RHY Form”).
- The District will transport any student in temporary housing to their school of origin, including preschools and charter schools, where it is the designated district of attendance and the student in temporary housing is not entitled to receive transportation from the Department of Social Services.
- When the District is designated as the school district of current location and the student in temporary housing does not attend the school of origin, the District will provide transportation on the same basis as it is provided to resident students, unless the local transportation policy represents a barrier to the student’s attendance in school.
- If the student in temporary housing designates the District as the school district of attendance, transportation will not exceed 50 miles each way unless the Commissioner of Education determines that it is in the best interest of the child.
- Where the District is designated as the school district of attendance and it has recommended that the student in temporary housing attend a summer educational program, the District will provide transportation services to such students for summer education programs if the lack of transportation poses a barrier to the student’s participation in the program.
- Where the District is designated as the school district of attendance, it will provide transportation services to students in temporary housing for extracurricular or academic activities when:
- The student participates in or would like to participate in an extracurricular or academic activity, including an after-school activity, at the school; and
- The student meets the eligibility criteria for the activity; and
- The lack of transportation poses a barrier to the student’s participation in the activity.
- Where a student in temporary housing must cross state lines to attend a school of origin, the District will coordinate with the school district in the neighboring state to provide transportation services when:
- The student is temporarily living in New York State and continues to attend school in a neighboring state; or
- The student is temporarily living in a neighboring state and continues to attend school in New York State.
Access to Free Meals
The District will provide free meals to all children identified as students in temporary housing without the need to complete a free or reduced price meal application. When the McKinney-Vento liaison or a shelter director provides a child’s name to the District’s Food Service Office, free school meals will commence immediately.
Duties of the McKinney-Vento Liaison for Students in Temporary Housing and Unaccompanied Youth
The District will designate an appropriate staff person, who may also be a coordinator for other federal programs, as the District liaison for students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth to carry out the duties as described in law, Commissioner’s Regulations and applicable guidance issued by the U.S. and New York State Education Departments (the “McKinney-Vento liaison”). The District will inform school personnel, local service providers and advocates of the office and duties of the local McKinney-Vento liaison.
The District’s McKinney-Vento liaison serves as one of the primary contacts between families experiencing homelessness and school staff, district personnel, shelter workers, and other service providers. The McKinney-Vento liaison coordinates services to ensure that homeless children and unaccompanied youth enroll in school and have the opportunity to succeed.
The District’s McKinney-Vento liaison will ensure that:
- Students in temporary housing are identified by school personnel and through coordination activities with other entities and agencies;
- Students in temporary housing enroll in, and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in, the schools of the District;
- Students in temporary housing and their families receive educational services for which they are eligible, including Head Start programs administered by the District, Early Head Start, early intervention services under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and other preschool programs administered by the District.
- Students and parents in temporary housing receive referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health and substance abuse services, housing services and other appropriate services;
- Parents/guardians of students in temporary housing are informed of the educational and related opportunities available to their children and are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children;
- Parents/guardians of students in temporary housing, and unaccompanied youth, are fully informed of all transportation services, including transportation to and from the school district of origin and are assisted in accessing transportation services;
- Disputes regarding eligibility, school selection, enrollment and/or transportation are mediated in accordance with the requirements of McKinney-Vento, §3209 of the Education Law, and §100.2(x)(7)(ii) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education;
- Assistance in commencing an appeal pursuant to Education Law §310 of a final determination regarding eligibility, enrollment, school selection and/or transportation is provided to the students in temporary housing’s parent/guardian or the unaccompanied youth in accordance with the provisions of §100.2(x)(7)(iii)(c) of the Commissioner’s Regulations.
- Public notice of the educational rights of students in temporary housing is posted in locations where such students receive services, such as schools, shelters, public libraries, and soup kitchens, in a manner and form understandable to the parents and guardians of students in temporary housing, and unaccompanied youth;
- A record is maintained of all appeals of enrollment, school selection and transportation;
- School personnel providing services to students in temporary housing receive professional development and other support;
- Unaccompanied youth:
- are enrolled in school;
- have opportunities to meet the same challenging State academic standards as the State establishes for other children and youth, including receiving credit for full or partial coursework earned in a prior school pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulations, and
- are informed of their status as independent students under section 480 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 USC 1087vv) and that the unaccompanied youths may obtain assistance from the local educational agency liaison to receive verification of such status for purposes of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid described in section 483 of such Act (20 USC 1090).
- School personnel, service providers, advocates working with students in temporary housing, parents and guardians of students in temporary housing, and students in temporary housing are informed of the duties of the McKinney-Vento liaison.
The District will:
- coordinate the provision of services described above with local social services agencies, housing providers and other agencies or programs providing services to students in temporary housing and their families, including services and programs funded under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
- coordinate with other school districts on inter-district issues, such as transportation or transfer of school records.
- coordinate implementation of the above provision of services with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for students with disabilities.
Coordination with Title I
The District acknowledges that students in temporary housing are eligible for services under Title I, Part A, whether or not they live in a Title I school attendance area or meet the academic requirements required of other children. The District will ensure that:
- Title I, Part A funds are set aside as are necessary to provide students in temporary housing who may have unique needs that differ from their permanently housed peers, with educationally related support services;
- Its local plan includes a description of how the plan is coordinated with McKinney-Vento;
- Its local plan describes the services provided to students in temporary housing;
- Its local plan describes the efforts it made to identify students in temporary housing, including unaccompanied youth, if the District reports that there are no students in temporary housing enrolled in the District. Such efforts will include contacting the local department of social services or (OCFS) to verify that there are no students in temporary housing in the District; and
- Its housing questionnaire asks about the living arrangements of the child or unaccompanied youth, including asking if he or she is living in a shelter; with relatives or others due to loss of housing or economic hardship; in an abandoned apartment/ building; in a motel/hotel, camping ground, car, train/bus station or other similar situation due to the lack of alternative, adequate housing. Documentation of the District’s efforts to identify students in temporary housing will be maintained on file and a copy of the housing questionnaire that asks the above questions will also be kept on file.
All school enrollment staff, secretaries, school counselors, school social workers and principals will be trained on the requirements for enrollment of students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth. Other staff members including school nutrition staff, school registered professional nurses, and teachers will receive training on homelessness that is specific to their field.
The District will make every effort to inform the parents/guardians of students in temporary housing and unaccompanied 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 students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth will be disseminated by the District in places where families and unaccompanied youth are likely to be present (e.g., schools, shelters, soup kitchens) and in plain language formats (e.g., geared for low literacy or other community needs).
Dispute Resolution Process
The District has established the following procedures for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding school selection or enrollment of a student in temporary housing and unaccompanied youth:
- The District will provide a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal, to the parent/guardian of a student in temporary housing or to an unaccompanied youth if the District determines that it is not required to either enroll and/or transport such child or youth to the school of origin or a school requested by the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth, or if there is a disagreement about a child’s or youth’s status as a homeless child or unaccompanied youth. The written explanation will be in a manner and form understandable to such parent/guardian, or unaccompanied youth and will include a statement regarding the McKinney-Vento liaison’s availability to help the parent/ guardian or unaccompanied youth with any appeal and the contact information for the liaison.
- The District will immediately enroll the student in the school in which enrollment is sought by the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth, provide transportation to the school, and will delay for 30 days the implementation of a final determination to decline to either enroll in and/or transport the student in temporary housing to the school of origin or a school requested by the parent or guardian or unaccompanied youth.
- If the parent/guardian of a student in temporary housing or unaccompanied youth commences an appeal to the Commissioner within 30 days of such final determination, the student will be permitted to continue to attend the school he or she is enrolled in at the time of the appeal and/or receive transportation to that school pending the resolution of all available appeals.
McKinney-Vento Liaison’s Dispute Resolution Responsibilities
The District’s McKinney-Vento liaison must assist the student in temporary housing’s parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth in bringing an appeal to the Commissioner under Education Law §310 of a final school district decision regarding enrollment, school selection and/or transportation. In the event of a dispute regarding eligibility, enrollment, school selection, and/or transportation, the District’s McKinney-Vento liaison will:
- Provide the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth with a copy of the form petition, which is available at: http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/appeals/homelessForms;
- Assist the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth in completing the form petition (“petition”);
- Arrange for the copying of the petition and supporting documents for the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth, without cost to them;
- Accept service of the petition and supporting papers on behalf of any District employee or officer named as a party or the District if it is named as a party or arrange for service by mail by mailing the petition and supporting documents to any District employee or officer named as a party and, if the District is named as a party, to a person in the office of the superintendent who has been designated by the Board to accept service on behalf of the District;
- Provide the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth with a signed and dated acknowledgment verifying that the McKinney-Vento liaison has received the petition and supporting documents and will either accept service of these documents on behalf of the District employee or officer or School District or effect service by mail by mailing the petition and supporting documents to any District employee or officer named as a party and, if the District is named as a party, to a person in the office of the superintendent who has been designated by the Board to accept service on behalf of the District;
- Transmit on behalf of the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth, within five days after the service of the petition or any pleading or paper to the Office of Counsel, New York State Education Department, State Education Building, Albany, New York 12234;
- Provide the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth with a signed and dated acknowledgement verifying that the McKinney-Vento liaison has received the petition and supporting documents and will transmit these documents on behalf of the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth to the Office of Counsel, New York State Education Department, State Education Building, Albany, New York 12234;
- Accept service of any subsequent pleadings or papers, including any correspondence related to the appeal, if the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth so elects. The liaison must also make such correspondence available to the parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth; and
- Maintain a record of all appeals of enrollment, school selection, and transportation determinations.
Records and Reporting Requirements
If the District, as the school district of origin, receives a properly certified request to forward student records to a receiving district, the records must be forwarded within five (5) days of receipt of the request.
The District will maintain documentation regarding all aspects of the District’s contact with and services provided to students in temporary housing and youth for possible on-site monitoring by the State Education Department.
The District will collect and transmit to the Commissioner of Education, at such time and in the manner as the Commissioner may require, a report containing information the Commissioner determines is necessary to assess the educational needs of students in temporary housing and unaccompanied youths within the state.
The District will award full or partial credit to a student in temporary housing, including a homeless unaccompanied youth, who seeks to return to the District, for coursework satisfactorily completed while attending a prior school.
Any information pertaining to the living situation of a student in temporary housing, such as his or her homeless status or temporary address, is considered a student educational record and is not subject to disclosure as directory information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). A parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth may consent to the release of a student’s address information in the same way they would be any other student education records under FERPA.
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 USC §§11431, et seq.
School Enrollment Guidelines on the McKinney-Vento Act, 67 Fed. Reg. 10,697-10,701 (March 8, 2002)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 USC §1431 et seq.
Free and Reduced Meal Program, 42 USC §1758
Education Law §§207; 305; 3202; 3205; 3209
Executive Law §§532-b; 532-e
Social Services Law §§17; 62; 397
8 NYCRR §§100.2(x); 175.6, Part 200.4
NYS Field Memo, September 26, 2013
Adopted by the Board of Education: October 15, 2019