|The School Board of Polk County|
|Bylaws & Policies|
|Unless a specific policy has been amended and the date the policy was revised is noted at the bottom of that policy, the bylaws and policies of The School Board of Polk County were adopted on November 12, 2013 and were in effect beginning November 12, 2013.|
5111.01 - HOMELESS STUDENTS
Children who are identified as meeting the Federal definition of "homeless" will be provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE), including a public preschool education, and other services needed to ensure an opportunity to meet the same challenging State academic standards to which all students are held and to fully participate in the Districtís academic and extracurricular activities in the same manner as all other students of the District. To that end, homeless students will not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless. The District shall establish safeguards that protect homeless students from discrimination on the basis of their homelessness. The District shall regularly review and revise its policies, including school discipline policies that impact homeless students or those who may be a member of any of the protected classes (Policy 2260).
Homeless children and youth are defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and include children and youth who meet any of the following criteria:
|A.||share the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason|
|B.||live in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to a lack of alternative adequate accommodations|
|C.||live in emergency or transitional shelters|
|D.||are abandoned in hospitals|
|E.||have a primary night time residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, or|
|F.||live in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station, or similar setting.|
NOTE:According to nonregulatory guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), standards for adequate housing may vary by locality. Please see Education for Homeless Children and Youth Programs, Non-Regulatory Guidance, U.S. Department of Education (ED), for factors to consider when determining whether a child or youth is living in "substandard housing".
Pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Act, an unaccompanied youth includes a homeless child or youth not in the physical custody of a parent. Under State law an unaccompanied homeless youth who is sixteen (16) years of age or older and found to be an unaccompanied homeless youth eligible for services under Federal law shall be issued a certificate by the District's Liaison for Homeless Children on District letterhead documenting his/her status which is to be accepted by medical providers and the courts.
Additionally, pursuant to Federal and State law, children or youth who are experiencing homelessness also include migratory children who are living in circumstances described in A-F above.
Services to Homeless Children and Youth
The District will provide services to homeless students that are comparable to other students in the District, including:
|B.||public preschool programs and other educational programs and services for which the homeless student meets eligibility criteria including:|
|1.||programs for children with disabilities|
|2.||programs for English learners (ELs) (i.e., students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP));|
|3.||programs in career and technical education;|
|4.||programs for gifted and talented students;|
|5.||school nutrition programs; and|
|6.||before - and after-school programs.|
The District will remove barriers to provide appropriate credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by homeless children and youth while attending a prior school and shall provide unaccompanied homeless high school youth counseling to prepare and improve their readiness for postsecondary education.
The Superintendent will appoint a Liaison for Homeless Children who will perform the duties as assigned by the Superintendent. Additionally, the Liaison will coordinate and collaborate with the State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth as well as with other school districts and school personnel responsible for the provision of education and related services to homeless children and youths and community service providers and organizations, including local social services and housing authorities. For more information on the role of the Liaison, refer to AP 5111.01.
Maintaining a stable school environment is crucial to a homeless studentís success in school. To ensure stability, the District must make school placement determinations in one of the following eligible school selections based on the "best interest" of the homeless child or youth based on student-centered factors. The District must:
|A.||continue the studentís education in the school of origin for the duration of homelessness when a family becomes homeless between academic years or during an academic year; and for the remainder of the academic year even if the child or youth becomes permanently housed during an academic year; or|
|B.||enroll the student in any public school that non-homeless students who live in the attendance area in which the child or youth, or the family of the child or youth, is actually living are eligible to attend.|
When determining a child or youthís best interest, the District must assume that keeping the homeless student in the school of origin is in that studentís best interest, except when doing so is contrary to the request of the studentís parent or the student if he or she is an unaccompanied youth. The school of origin is the school the student attended or enrolled in when permanently housed or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled, including a public preschool. The school of origin also includes the designated receiving school at the next level for feeder school patterns, when the student completes the final grade level at the school of origin.
When determining the studentís best interest, the District must also consider student-centered factors, including the impact of mobility on achievement, education, health, and safety of homeless students and give priority to the request of the studentís parent or youth (if an unaccompanied youth). The District also considers the school placement of siblings when making this determination.
If the District finds that it is not in the studentís best interest to attend the school of origin or the eligible school requested by the parent or unaccompanied youth, the District must provide the individual with a written explanation and reason for the determination in a manner and form understandable to the parent or unaccompanied youth. This written explanation will include appeal rights and be provided in a timely manner.
The District has an obligation to remove barriers to the identification, enrollment (including attending classes and participating fully in school activities) and retention of homeless students. If a school other than the studentís school of origin is chosen on the basis of a best interest determination, the homeless student must be immediately enrolled, even if the student does not have the documentation typically necessary for enrollment, such as immunization and other required health records, proof of residency, proof of guardianship, birth certificate, or previous academic records. The homeless student must also be enrolled immediately regardless of whether the student missed application or enrollment deadlines during the period of homelessness, fails to meet uniform or dress code requirements, or has outstanding fines, fees, or absences.
The enrolling school must immediately contact the school last attended by the homeless student to obtain relevant academic or other records. If the student needs immunization or other health records, the enrolling school must immediately refer the parent or unaccompanied youth to the Liaison, who will help obtain the immunizations, screenings or other required health records. Records usually maintained by the school must be kept so that they are available in a timely fashion if the homeless child enters a new school or district. These records include immunization or other required health records, academic records, birth certificates, guardianship records, and evaluations for special services or programs. Procedures for inter-State records transfer between schools should be taken into account in order to facilitate immediate enrollment.
In addition, it shall be the Districtís responsibility to make sure that, once identified for services, the homeless student is attending classes and not facing barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities, including magnet school, summer school, career and technical education, advanced placement, online learning, and charter school programs (if available).
The District shall promptly provide homeless students with transportation services that are comparable to those available to non-homeless students. At the request of the parent or the liaison in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the District shall provide, or arrange for, transportation to and from the studentís school of origin.
|A.||If the homeless student continues to live in the same District as the school of origin, transportation shall be provided, or the District shall arrange for the studentís transportation, to/from his/her school of origin.|
|B.||If the homeless student resides in another school district, but the best interest determination is that the student should continue his/her education at the school of origin in the District, the District and the school district in which the student now resides shall agree upon a method to equitably apportion responsibility and costs for transportation to the school of origin.|
|If there is not agreement, the District shall assume responsibility to transport the student from the district of residence to the school of origin in the District. Since Federal law requires that the responsibility and costs to be shared equally, the district of residence shall be invoiced for their share of the cost for transportation.|
|C.||If the homeless student resides in the District, but the best interest determination is that the student should continue his/her education at the school of origin in another district, the District and the school district in which the studentís school of origin is located shall agree upon a method to equitably apportion responsibility and costs for transportation to the school of origin.|
|If there is not agreement, the District shall transport the student to the school of origin in the other district. Since Federal law requires the responsibility and costs for transportation services to be shared equally, the district in which the school or origin is located shall be invoiced for their share of the cost for transportation.|
|D.||When the student obtains permanent housing, transportation shall be provided to and from the school of origin until the end of the current school year.|
In accordance with Federal law, the above transportation requirements still apply during the resolution of any dispute. The District will work with the State to resolve transportation disputes with other districts. Until the Districts reach agreement, the responsibility and costs for transportation shall be shared equally.
If the disputing district is in another State, the District will turn to the State for assistance as Federal guidance says that both states should try to arrange an agreement for the districts.
Homeless families and youths have the right to challenge eligibility, school placement, and enrollment decisions. If a dispute arises between a school/District homeless education program and a parent or unaccompanied youth regarding eligibility, school selection, or enrollment of a homeless student, the District must follow its dispute resolution procedures, consistent with the Stateís procedures. If such a dispute occurs, the District will immediately enroll the homeless student in the eligible school in which enrollment is sought pending final resolution of the dispute, including all appeals. The student will receive all services for which they are eligible until all disputes and appeals are resolved.
Pursuant to Federal and State law, State Board rule, and this policy, the District will provide the parent or unaccompanied youth with a written explanation of all decisions regarding eligibility, school selection, and enrollment made by the District, along with a written explanation of appeal rights.
The Districtís notice and written explanation about the reason for its decision will include, at a minimum, an explanation of how the school/District homeless education program reached its decision regarding eligibility, school selection, or enrollment, including the following:
|A.||a description of the proposed or refused action by the school/District homeless education program;|
|B.||an explanation of why the action is proposed or refused;|
|C.||a description of other options the school/District homeless education program considered and why those options were rejected;|
|D.||a description of any other relevant factors to the schoolís/District homeless education programís decision and information related to the eligibility or best interest determination such as the facts, witnesses, and evidence relied upon and their sources; and|
|E.||an appropriate timeline to ensure deadlines are not missed.|
The Districtís notice and written explanation shall include contact information for the Liaison and the State Coordinator, and a brief description of the roles of each. The Districtís notice and written explanation shall also inform the parent or unaccompanied youth that the Liaison is responsible for providing information describing the State-level dispute resolution process and distributing the appropriate forms to all parties wanting to file an appeal.
To initiate the State-level appeals process, within ten (10) working days after receiving written notification of the District-level or inter-district decision, the parent or unaccompanied youth may file an appeal with the Liaison, who must provide it to FLDOE. Upon receipt of an appeal, the Liaison is required to notify FLDOE of the State-level appeal and provide that appeal to the FLDOE. The local liaison also must log incidents of State-level appeals in the FLDOE Online Dispute Resolution Tracking System.
It is the duty of the FLDOE and the Commissioner of Education -to render a decision on any appeal and provide a copy of such decision to the parties.
All decisions and notices shall be drafted in an appropriate reading level, font size, writing system, language and format in that is appropriate for individuals with disabilities and understandable to the parent or unaccompanied youth.
For children and youth and/or parents who are English learners or whose dominate language is not English, the District will provide translation and interpretation services in connection with all phases of the dispute resolution process pursuant to Federal laws.
The District will also provide electronic notices via email if the parent or unaccompanied youth has access to and provides email information to District staff followed by a written notice provided in person or sent by mail.
Homeless Children in Preschool
Homeless preschool-aged children and their families shall be provided equal access to the educational services for which they are eligible, including preschool programs, and Head Start programs, administered by the District. Additionally, the homeless child must remain in the public preschool of origin, unless a determination is made that it is not in the childís best interest. When making such a decision on the homeless studentís best interest, the District takes into account the same factors as it does for any homeless student, regardless of age. It also considers pre-school age specific factors, such as 1) the childís attachment to preschool teachers and staff; 2) the impact of school climate on the child, including school safety; the quality and availability of services to meet the childís needs, including health, developmental, and social-emotional needs; and 3) travel time to and from school.
The District must also provide transportation services to the school of origin for a homeless child attending preschool. It is the Districtís responsibility to provide the homeless child with transportation to the school of origin even if the homeless preschooler who is enrolled in a public preschool in the District moves to another district that does not provide widely available or universal preschool.
In addition to notifying the parent of the homeless student or the unaccompanied youth of the applicable rights described above, the District shall post public notice of educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness in each school. In addition, the District shall post public notice of the McKinney-Vento rights in places that homeless populations frequent, such as shelters, soup kitchens, and libraries in a manner and form understandable to the parents and unaccompanied youths.
The local liaison will assist the homeless students and their parent(s) or unaccompanied homeless students in their efforts to provide documentation to meet State and local requirements for entry into school.
All records for homeless students shall be maintained, subject to the protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Policy 8330, and in such a manner so that they are available in a timely fashion and can be transferred promptly to the appropriate parties, as required. Pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Act, information regarding a homeless studentís living situation is not considered directory information and must be provided the same protections as other non-directory personally identifiable information (PII) contained in student education records under FERPA. The District shall incorporate practices to protect student privacy as described in AP 5111.01, AP 8330, and in accordance with the provisions of section 444 of the General Education Provision Act, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
No Board policy, administrative procedure, or practice will be interpreted or applied in such a way as to inhibit the enrollment, attendance, or school success of homeless children.
42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.
Technical Change 9/9/16
© Neola 2017