Ed Stability Homeless/Foster Care/Military

EDUCATIONAL STABILITY FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE HOMELESS,
IN FOSTER CARE, OR IN MILITARY FAMILIES

 

Educational Opportunities for homeless students

Definitions

Homeless children and youth are individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence or have a primary nighttime residence in a supervised, publicly or privately, operated shelter for temporary accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill), an institution providing temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or a public or private place not designated for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

This definition shall include:

  • children and youth 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 adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
  • children and youth 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 youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;
  •  migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above; and
  •  unaccompanied youth a youth not in the physical custody of a parents/guardians or guardian.
  • Enroll and enrollment: attending classes and participating fully in school activities.

School of origin: the school the child or youth attended when permanently housed, or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled, including a preschool. When a child or youth completes the final grade level served by the school of origin, the school of origin includes the designated receiving school at the next grade level for all feeder schools.

Unaccompanied youth: a homeless child or youth not in the physical custody of a parents/guardians or guardian

Homeless students: Enrollment Rights and Services

To the extent practical and as required by law, the district will work with homeless students and their families to provide stability in school attendance and other services. Special attention will be given to ensuring the enrollment and attendance of homeless students not currently attending school. Homeless students will be provided district services for which they are eligible, including Head Start and comparable pre-school programs, Title I, similar state programs, special education, bilingual education, vocational and technical education programs, gifted and talented programs, and school nutrition programs.

The district liaison for homeless students and their families is:

Mary Lammi
Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services
[email protected]
781-455-0400x11213

To the extent feasible, homeless students will continue to be enrolled in their school of origin while they remain homeless or until the end of the academic year in which they obtain permanent housing, instead of remaining in the school of origin, parents/guardians or guardians of homeless students may request enrollment in the school in the attendance area in which the student is actually living or other schools. Attendance rights by living in attendance areas, other student assignment policies, or inter-district choice options are available to homeless families on die same terms as families who reside in the district.

If there is an enrollment dispute, the student shall be immediately enrolled in the school in which enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute. The parents/guardians shall be informed of the district's decision and their appeal rights in writing. The district's liaison will carry out dispute resolution as provided by state rule. Unaccompanied youth will also be enrolled pending the resolution of the dispute.

Once the enrollment decision is made, the school shall immediately enroll the student, pursuant to district policies. If the student does not have immediate access to immunization records, the student shall be admitted under a personal exception. Students and families should be encouraged to obtain current immunization records or immunizations as soon as possible, and the district liaison is directed to assist. Records from the student's previous school shall be requested from the previous school pursuant to district policies. Emergency contact information is required at the time of enrollment consistent with district policies, including compliance with the state’s address confidentiality program when necessary.

Homeless students are entitled to transportation to their school of origin or the school where they are to be enrolled. If the school of origin is in a different district, or a homeless student is living in another district but will attend his or her school of origin in this district, the districts will coordinate the transportation services necessary for the student, or will divide the costs equally.

LEGAL REFS.: The McKinney-Vento Act and Title I, Part A, as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015

Additional information about Educational Stability for students who are homeless can be found at httDs://www.doe.mass.edu/sfs/mv/

Educational Opportunities for Children in Foster Care
Definitions
Foster Care: placement by DCF of a student into 24-hour out-of-home-care away from his/her parents/guardians. These placements include among others:

  • foster family homes
  • foster homes of relatives
  • emergency shelters including STARR programs and Transitional Care units
  • residential facilities
  • child care institutions
  • group homes   
  • pre-adoptive homes

Best Interest Determination: the collaborative process based on the individual student's unique best interest and involving input from multiple parties used for making decisions about whether a student placed in foster care involving input from multiple parties used for making decisions about whether a student placed in foster care should continue to attend the school of origin.

District of Origin: the Massachusetts school district in which a school of origin is physically located. For situations in which an

individual school operates as an individual school district, the school will be considered both the school of origin and the

district of origin. Examples of such single school districts/education authorities include but are not limited to charter schools

and regional high schools.

The district ensures the educational stability of students in foster care and their equal access to the same free and appropriate public education through high school graduation as provided to other students as required by law. Educational stability has a lasting impact on student's academic achievement and wellbeing, and the School Committee is committed to supporting district and community efforts to ensure that students in foster care have access to high-quality, stable educational experiences.

The law requires that foster care students continue to attend their school of origin unless after a collaborative decision-making process it is determined to be in the student's best interest to enroll in and attend school in the district in which a foster care provider or facility is located (if different). The law also requires that when it is not in the student's best interest to remain in the school of origin, the student is immediately enrolled and attending a new school district, even if records normally required for enrollment cannot be quickly produced. Additionally, the law requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF), The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the school district to designate points of contact; and also that the district collaborate with DCF to ensure that students will receive transportation to the school of origin if needed.

The points of contact for the district include:

Julie Muse-Fisher, Executive Director of Special Education
julie [email protected]
781-455-0400x11215

Mary Lammi, Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services
[email protected]
781-455-0400x11213

Best Interest Determination

Decisions about whether a student in foster care should continue to attend the school of origin should be made collaboratively by DCF, the student (as appropriate), the student's family and/or foster family (and if different, the person authorized to make educational decisions on behalf of the student), the school and district of origin, and (when different) the local district where the student is placed. Best interest determinations should focus on the needs of each individual student and take into account a variety of factors. Every effort should be made to reach an agreement regarding the appropriate school placement of a student in foster care. However, if there is disagreement regarding school placement for a student in foster care, DCF will finalize the best interest determination.

Transportation

The district of origin must collaborate with DCF on how transportation will be provided and arranged to ensure that students in
foster care who need transportation to remain in their school of origin will receive such transportation while they are in foster care.

Immediate Enrollment

If it is in the best interest of a student in foster care to leave the school of origin, the student must be enrolled in school in the local school district immediately. To minimize disruption of the student's education, the law requires the district to enroll the student in a new school right away, without waiting to receive the typical student enrollment documentation (other than emergency contact information). The enrolling school must immediately contact the child's school and district of origin to obtain the relevant records and documentation, and the school and district of origin should immediately transfer those records.

LEGAL REFS: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act)

Additional information about Educational Stability for students in foster care can be found at httos://www.doe.mass.edu/sfs/foster/

Educational Opportunities for Military Children

In an effort to facilitate the placement, enrollment, graduation, data collection, and provision of special services for students transferring into or out of the District because of their parents/guardians being on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services, the District supports and will implement its responsibilities as outlined in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

Definitions
Children of military families mean school-aged children, enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, in the household of an active duty member of the uniformed service of the United States, including members of the National Guard and Reserves serving on active duty.

Deployment means the period one month before the service members' departure from their home station on military orders through six months after return to their home station.

Eligible students are those who are children of active-duty personnel, active duty personnel or veterans who have been severely injured and medically discharged, and active-duty personnel who die on active duty within one year of sen/ice. Students are not eligible for the provisions of the Compact if they are children of inactive Guard or Reserves, retired personnel, veterans not included above or U.S. Department of Defense personnel, and other federal civil service employees and contract employees.

The District's responsibilities to eligible children include the following:

  •  Sending schools must send either official or unofficial records with the moving students and District receiving schools must use those records for immediate enrollment and educational placement.
  •  Simultaneously, the receiving school must request official records and the sending schools shall respond within 10 days with the records. Immunization requirements of the District may be met within 30 days from the date of enrollment (or be in progress).
  • Receiving schools must initially honor the placement of students in all courses from the sending school. These include, but are not limited to, Honors, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, vocational-technical, and career pathway courses if those courses are offered in the receiving school and space is available. The receiving schools must also initially honor placement of like programs to those of the student in the sending state, including, but not limited to, Gifted and Talented programs, and English as a Second Language programs. Receiving schools are not precluded from performing a subsequent evaluation to ensure the appropriate placement and continued enrollment of the student in courses and programs. In compliance with federal law, special education students must be placed by the existing IEP with reasonable accommodations in the receiving school.
  •  The District will exercise, as deemed appropriate, the right to waive prerequisites for all courses and programs, while also maintaining its right to re-evaluate the student to ensure continued enrollment, as deemed appropriate.
  • Students of active duty personnel shall have additional excused absences at the discretion of the District for visitations relative to leave or deployment.
  • An eligible student living with noncustodial parents/guardians shall be permitted to attend the school in which he or she was enrolled while living without the custodial parents/guardians/guardian without any tuition fee imposed.
  • The District high school will accept exit or end-of-year exams required from the sending state, national norm-referenced tests, or alternate testing instead of testing requirements for graduation in the District (receiving state.) If this is not possible, the alternative provision of the Interstate Compact shall be followed in order to facilitate the on-time graduation of the student in accordance with Compact provisions.

LEGAL REFS: M.G. L. 15E:

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

Additional information about Educational Stability for students in military families can be found at https://www.doe.mass.edu/sfs/mic3/

 

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