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 - CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN TRANSITION (HOMELESS STUDENTS)

For purposes of this policy, pursuant to Federal and State law, homeless children and youth (otherwise known as children and youth in transition) are defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and include those 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 or awaiting for foster care placement;

 E.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; or

 F.live in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station, or similar setting.

Additionally, pursuant to State law, an unaccompanied homeless youth is an individual who is sixteen (16) years of age or older and is found by the District's Liaison for Homeless Children to be an unaccompanied homeless youth eligible for services under Federal law.

Further, 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.

It is the policy of the School Board that children and youth in transition are afforded the same free appropriate public education as provided to other students and have access to the educational and other services that they need so that they have the opportunity to meet the same challenging Florida academic achievement standards to which all students are held. Homeless preschool-aged children and their families shall have access to the educational services for which they are eligible, including preschool programs administered by the School District.

Children and youth in transition will not be stigmatized, segregated, or harassed on the basis of their status as homeless. The District shall establish safeguards that protect children and youth in transition from discrimination on the basis of their homelessness.

The District shall remove barriers to the enrollment and retention of children and youth in transition in schools in the District and follow the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Children and youth in transition shall be enrolled immediately, even if they do not have the necessary enrollment documentation such as immunization and health records, proof of residency or guardianship, birth certificate, school records, unpaid school fees, and other documentation related to the student's living situation.

Further, the Homeless Liaison will assist, to the extent feasible, the children and youth in transition and their parent(s)/guardian(s) or unaccompanied youth in transition in their efforts to provide documentation to meet State and local requirements for entry into school. 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 children and youth in transition.

The District will keep children and youth in transition in the school of origin, that is, the school that the child or youth attended when permanently housed or last enrolled, or will be assigned to the school serving the grade in which the student will be placed in the attendance zone where the child or youth currently resides.

Children and youth in transition will be provided services comparable to other students in the District including:

 A.transportation services;

 B.educational services for which the child or youth in transition meets eligibility criteria including services provided under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or similar State and local programs, educational programs for children with disabilities and gifted students, and educational programs for students with limited English proficiency;

 C.programs in vocational and technical education;

 D.school nutrition programs; and

 E.before- and after-school programs.

The Board recognizes that children and youth in transition have the right to remain in their school of origin and the right to dispute their school assignment, if their assignment is other than their school of origin. The Board requires that these rights, along with the right to appeal, and the dispute process be communicated to the parent or guardian of the child or youth in transition or unaccompanied youth in writing. According to the child's or youth's best interest, a child or youth in transition will either remain in the school of origin for the duration of homelessness, or be enrolled in the school in the attendance zone where the student currently resides. The school of origin is the school that student attended when permanently housed or last enrolled.

In determining the best interest of the student, the District shall, to the extent feasible, keep the student in the school of origin, except when doing so is contrary to the wishes of the child or youth in transition's parent/guardian or the unaccompanied youth. If the student is sent to a school other than the school of origin, a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal, will be provided to the child or youth in transition's parent/guardian or the unaccompanied youth. Each school in the District shall post public notice of educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

At the request of the parent/guardian, or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, or the local Homeless Liaison, transportation shall be provided for a child or youth in transition to and from the school of origin as follows:

 A.If the child or youth in transition continues to live in the School District in which the school of origin is located, transportation will be provided.

 B.If the child or youth in transition moves to an area served by another district, though continuing his/her education at the school of origin, the district of origin and the district in which the student resides must agree upon a method to apportion responsibility and costs for transportation to the school of origin. If the districts cannot agree upon such a method, the responsibility and costs must be shared equally.

In addition to receiving transportation to and from the school of origin upon request, children and youth in transition will also be provided with other transportation services comparable to those offered to housed students.

The Superintendent will appoint a Liaison for Children and Youth in Transition who will perform the duties as required by law, as well as additional duties that may be assigned by the Superintendent and require that:

 A.children and youth in transition are identified by school personnel and through coordination activities with other entities and agencies;

 B.students enroll in, and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in school;

 C.families, children and youth receive educational services for which they are eligible, including Head Start and pre-school programs administered by the School District, and referrals to health, mental health, dental, and other appropriate services;

 D.public notice of the educational rights of students in transition is disseminated where children and youth receive services;

 E.enrollment disputes are mediated in accordance with the Enrollment Disputes section of McKinney-Vento;

 F.school and District staffs are trained in possible indicators of homelessness, sensitivity in identifying families and youth as in transition, procedures for forwarding information indicating homelessness to the local liaison, and assistance available to the children and youth in transition;
  The trainings and activities will be designed to increase staff awareness, facilitate immediate enrollment, ensure compliance with this policy, and increase sensitivity to children and youth in transition.

 G.data is kept on the number of children and youth in transition in the District; where they are living; their academic achievement (including performance on State and District-wide assessments); and the reasons for any enrollment delays, interruptions in their education, or school transfers;

 H.written certification is provided documenting that an individual meets the definition of "unaccompanied homeless youth" set forth in state law. The written certification shall be issued on official District letterhead stationery of the Homeless Liaison and shall include the date of the finding, a citation to F.S. 743.067(2), and the Homeless Liaison's signature.

Additionally, the Liaison will coordinate and collaborate with the State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth as well as with community and school personnel responsible for the provision of education and related services to children and youth in transition.

F.S. 743.067
42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.

Revised 10/6/15
Technical Change 9/9/16

© Neola 2016