RSU 13 Services for Homeless Students

RSU 13 Services for Homeless Students and

 Enrollment Dispute Resolution Process  

RSU 13 realizes that homelessness alone should not be a sufficient reason to separate learners from the school learning environment.  RSU 13 strives to ensure that homeless learners are identified and provided access to the same free and appropriate public education provided to all learners in the school system.  In accordance with federal and state law and regulations, RSU 13 will provide homeless learners access to the instructional programming that supports achievement of the content standards of Maine's system of Learning Results and to other services for which they are eligible.  Learners shall not be segregated into a separate school or program based on their status as homeless, nor shall they be stigmatized in any way.  

The federal law governing homeless learners is the McKinney-Vento Act.  Under this legislation, homeless students are guaranteed the right to a free, appropriate, public education. When students become homeless, they can remain enrolled in the schools they have been attending, although they might no longer meet residency requirements. McKinney-Vento also guarantees homeless students the right to enroll in a public school even if they lack the typically required documents and immunizations. In addition, homeless students are guaranteed the transportation they need to attend school.

According to McKinney-Vento, “homeless” can be defined as an individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, including children and youth: 

  • Sharing housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate housing
  • Living in emergency or transitional housing
  • Abandoned in hospitals
  • Awaiting foster care
  • Having a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations
  • Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations
  • Migratory students meeting the descriptions above 

    McKinney-Vento definitions include:
  • "School of selection" is the school of origin, or the school of residence.
  • "School of origin" as the school the child or youth attended when permanently housed or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled.
  • "Enrollment" as attending classes and participating fully in school activities.  Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth must be able to initiate a dispute resolution process either in writing or orally directly at the selected school site if any enrollment dispute arises.  

School Registration & Enrollment:

Families, guardians, or unaccompanied youth initiate school registration and enrollment procedures at the school most appropriate to the learner’s residency and grade level.  When self-identification or the conditions of homeless become known, administrative assistants and/or other appropriate school officials will communicate with those impacted regarding services available to support students within their school of origin. The RSU 13 Homeless Liaison and the RSU 13 Superintendent’s Office administrative assistant will be notified regarding all identified homeless students. 

Educational and Transportation Services:

Homeless students shall be provided services comparable to those offered to other students in the same school, including:

  •  Educational services for which the student is eligible, including but not limited to special education, gifted and talented programs, vocational programs, Title I and limited English proficiency programs.  
  •  Transportation services. If a homeless student residing in the School Unit is enrolled in his/her school of origin in another school unit, or if a homeless student residing in another school unit continues to attend his/her school of origin, Regional School Unit No. 13 shall share the responsibility and reasonable costs for providing the student with transportation to and from the school of origin with the other school unit.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (PL107-110, Section 722) expands the responsibility of Maine Department of Education and LEA’s to ensure educational rights and protections for children and youth experiencing homelessness. All LEA’s must ensure coordination of their efforts on behalf of homeless children and youth with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvement Act, Title X, Part C and DOE directives. Part of that coordination is to implement procedures for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding school selection and enrollment for homeless children and youth.

  • If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the child/youth must be immediately enrolled in the school in which he/she is seeking enrollment, pending resolution of the dispute.  The enrollment occurs at the school where the student enrolls and the school notifies the RSU 13 homeless liaison if a dispute is indicated.  
  • The homeless liaison will confer with the learner, parent, and/or guardian to carry out the dispute resolution process as expeditiously as possible.  This also happens for unaccompanied youth.  An initial contact to begin resolution efforts occurs within the first week of enrollment in school if a dispute is indicated.  
  • During the process, the school district (pursuant to RSU 13 Policy JFABD)  identify considerations that led to the placement decision which may include the ability of the school district to provide continuity in educational programs, the need of the homeless learner for special instructional program, the amount of time and arrangements required to transport the student to the original school district, the age of the homeless student and the school placement of siblings, and the time remaining until the end of the semester or the end of the school year. 
  • A written explanation of the school’s decision regarding school selection or enrollment will be provided if a parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth disputes such a school selection or enrollment decision, including the right to appeal.  The written explanation shall be complete, as brief as possible, simply stated, and provided in easy to understand language. 
  • If the dispute remains unresolved at the district level or is appealed, then the district homeless liaison shall forward all written documentation and related paperwork to the Truancy, Dropout, Alternative Education, and McKinney-Vento State Coordinator. Upon the review of the LEA and parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth information, the State Homeless Coordinator will notify the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth of the final school selection or enrollment decision within ten (10) working days of receipt of materials. You may reach the State Homeless Coordinator, Jacinda Goodwin, at 207-624-6637 or by e-mail jacinda.goodwin@maine.gov.

Other information to know as a parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth: 

  • You can provide written or oral documentation to support your positions about school selection or enrollment.  
  • You can seek assistance of social services, advocates, lawyers, and/or service providers in the dispute process   
  • You will receive documentation for your records of the dispute form and the outcome of the dispute. 

Within any enrollment dispute resolution process, RSU 13 will: 

·         Inform parents, guardians, or unaccompanied youth that they can provide written or oral documentation to support their positions about school selection or enrollment. 

·         Inform parents, guardians, or unaccompanied youth that they can seek assistance of social services, advocates, lawyers, and/or social service providers in the dispute process.

·         Provide a simple dispute form that parents, guardians, or unaccompanied youth can complete and turn into the school to initiate a dispute resolution process. Provide a copy to parents, guardians, or unaccompanied youth for their records. 

·         Provide a copy to parents, guardians, or unaccompanied youth for their records when the dispute form is submitted to the school. 

Provide a copy to parents, guardians, or unaccompanied youth for their records of the outcome of the dispute, even when the dispute is immediately resolved satisfactorily without a dispute hearing.  

Forms:

The Homeless Liaison shall be responsible for coordinating with local social service and other agencies and other school units as necessary to ensure that homeless children and youth have access to education and related support services.  

The RSU 13 Homeless Liaison
Neal Guyer, Director of Curriculum & Instruction
207-596-6620

                                                          
Maine's Education Department Homeless Liaison
Jacinda Goodwin
207-624-6637

 Additional Mid-Coast Region Resources for Homeless Services:

 
RSU/MSAD 40 Homeless Liaison                           Camden/Rockport Homeless Liaison
Kimberly Schroeter                                                   Valerie Mattes
207-785-2277 Ext 235                                               207-236-7812
207-590-8198                                                              valerie.mattes@fivetowns.net
kim.schroeter@msad40.org


Knox County Homeless Coalition                            Hospitality House
PO Box 1696                                                                169 Old County Road
Rockland, ME  04841                                                  Rockport, ME  04841
207-974-2435                                                               207-593-8151
info@homehelphope.org