The 2015 reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a part of Every Student Succeeds Act legislation, mandates school districts to remove all barriers to the educational process for children experiencing homelessness.
In the United States, 1.3 million children are homeless any given night. The average age of an individual who is homeless is nine years old. Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
The term "homeless children and youth" refers to individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This may include:
•Children living in hotels, motels, campgrounds, emergency or transitional shelters, automobiles, hospitals, etc.
•Children and youth who are sharing housing of other persons due to financial hardship or being displaced.
•Youth not in the physical custody of a parent/guarding, otherwise known as unaccompanied youth.
Unaccompanied youth are defined as those young persons who have run away from home, been asked to leave their homes, and/or been abandoned by parents or guardians.
Local McKinney-Vento Liaison
For languages other than English, please leave a message, and your phone call will be returned with an interpreter.
Further information on the McKinney-Vento Act may be found on the National Center for Homeless Education website at https://www.naehcy.org.
5014 HOMELESS STUDENTS
General Policy. The District will provide tuition free education for homeless children and youth who are in the district and accord them the educational rights and legal protections provided by state and federal law. Homeless children and youth shall not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless and shall have access to the same services offered to other students. It is the intent of this policy to remove barriers to the enrollment and retention of homeless children and youth in the District.
Homeless Liaison. The District’s homeless liaison is Angie Kovarik. Students in homeless situations who require
assistance should contact the liaison at 308.324.1209 or in person at 300 South Washington Street, Lexington,
Nebraska. The liaison’s responsibilities include:
o Ensuring homeless children and youth are identified through coordination with the Nebraska Department of Education, community groups, and other school personnel;
o Receiving training regarding state and federal law governing homeless children and youth;
o Ensuring homeless children and youth and their families are referred to appropriate health care, housing, and other relevant
service providers and programs available in the community;
o Assisting other District personnel to work with homeless children and youth and their families on regular attendance, participation in programs and activities of the District, and completing academic work to meet academic standards of the District;
o Assisting homeless children and youth and working with other District employees to prepare for and improve college readiness, including assistance with applications, selection, financial aid, and status verification for purposes of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid; and
o Carrying out other aspects of this policy. 3. Definitions
o “Homeless children and youth” means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and includes:
Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;
Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).
o The term “homeless” or “homeless individual” does not include any individual imprisoned or otherwise detained by an act of Congress or by state law.
o “Child” and “youth” refers to persons who, if they were children of residents of the District, would be entitled to a free education.
o The term “unaccompanied youth” shall mean a homeless child or youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.
o “School of origin” means the school that the child or youth attended when permanently housed, or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled.
School Stability and Enrollment. Generally, the District presumes that keeping a homeless child or youth in their school of origin is in the child’s best interest unless it is contrary to a request of the child’s parent, guardian, or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the youth. The District will also consider factors including, but not limited to: the impact of mobility on achievement, education, health, and safety of the child.
Strategies to Address Enrollment Delays. In order to address enrollment delays resulting from homelessness, the school district shall immediately enroll homeless students even if they are unable to produce records normally required for enrollment such as immunization and medical records, residency documents, birth certificates, school records, or other documentation, or guardianship documents. The school district shall immediately contact the school last attended by the student to obtain academic and other records. The school district’s homeless liaison shall assist in obtaining necessary immunizations, or immunization or medical records.
Transportation. Transportation shall be provided to homeless students to the extent required by law and comparable to that provided to students who are not homeless. At the request of the parent or guardian (or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the liaison), transportation shall be provided to and from the school of origin as follows:
o If the homeless child or youth continues to live in the area served by the school district, the child’s or youth’s transportation to and from the school of origin shall be provided or arranged by the school district.
o If the homeless child’s or youth’s living arrangements in the area served by the school district terminate and the child or youth, though continuing his or her education in the school district, begins living in an area served by another school district, the school district and the new school district in which the homeless child or youth is living shall negotiate to agree upon a method to apportion the responsibility and costs for providing the child with transportation to and from the school district. If the districts are unable to agree, the responsibility and cost for transportation shall be shared equally.
Records. The District will maintain and respond to requests for enrollment records for homeless children or youth consistent with its record policies and state and federal record laws. Any information about a homeless child’s or youth’s living situation shall be treated as a confidential education record and shall not be deemed directory information.
Dispute Process. If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment in a school:
o The child or youth shall be admitted immediately to the school in which enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute;
o The child, youth, parent, or guardian shall be referred to the district’s homeless liaison who shall carry out the dispute resolution process within (30) thirty calendar days after receiving notice of the dispute;
o The parent or guardian of the child or youth or, in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the youth, shall be provided with a written explanation of the school’s decision regarding school selection or enrollment, including the rights of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth to appeal the decision within (30) thirty calendar days of the time such complaint or dispute is brought.
o In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the homeless liaison shall ensure that the youth is immediately enrolled in the school in which enrollment is sought pending resolution of the dispute.
9. Appeal Process
o Nebraska Department of Education. If the Complainant is not satisfied with the written decision of the District after the dispute resolution process, the Complainant may appeal the decision of the District to the Commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education within (30) thirty calendar days of receipt of the decision from the District, pursuant to Nebraska Department of Education Rule 19.
o State Board of Education. If the Complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the Commissioner, the Complainant may file a Petition with the State Board of Education within (30) thirty calendar days of the receipt of the decision of the Commissioner pursuant to Nebraska Department of Education Rule 19.
Adopted on: March 10, 2014 Reviewed on: ____________ Revised on: April 13, 2015 Revised on: July 10, 2017