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Tales from the Field: Enrollment

Many of our helpline calls involve cases with students in temporary housing who are not enrolled immediately and face many barriers to attending school.


The Tale:

An aunt and uncle took in several of their nieces and nephews when their sister (the children’s mother) was evicted from her apartment and didn’t have anywhere for herself and her children. The aunt and uncle attempted to register the children for school and wanted to set up transportation from their home, which is in the neighboring school district. The mother was receiving some assistance in finding new housing, but with a long waiting list, nothing had transpired at the start of the new school year. Although the best interest of the children is to remain in their school of origin, the registration office turned the aunt away as she didn’t have their birth certificates. That’s when she called the Helpline for assistance. Upon connecting her with the McKinney-Vento liaison in the school of origin, we thought enrollment would be quickly managed. Over the next several days the aunt and uncle faced multiple barriers and frustrations. While the liaison assisted with completing the registration forms in the McKinney-Vento office, there was no coordinated plan with the registration office down the hall. Ultimately the children missed a week and a half of the new school year.


Questions to ask:

  1. Are these students McKinney-Vento eligible?

  2. Can a school district decline a student’s enrollment based on lack of documentation (such as birth certificates)?

  3. What does a family need to provide to the district to register their children under McKinney-Vento?

  4. How can the McKinney-Vento liaison assist the family in the enrollment process?



Resources:

1. Review the McKinney-Vento Act and New York State guidance regarding families and McKinney-Vento eligibility. As always, you can find a wealth of resources on eligibility right here on our Determining Eligibility for M-V | NYSTEACHS.

2. After reviewing the rules on eligibility, if you’re still unsure of what to advise, you are encouraged to call the helpline for assistance: 1-800-388-2014.


Answers:


1: Are these students McKinney-Vento eligible?

Yes, based on the children living doubled up with another family, after an eviction, the students are McKinney-Vento eligible.


The McKinney-Vento Act defines “homeless children and youths” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes children and youths who are: sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as “doubled-up”); living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations; living in emergency or transitional shelters; or abandoned in hospitals; (Education Law §3209(1)(a); 8 NYCRR §100.2(x)(1); see also 42 USC §11434A(2)(B)(i); U.S. DOE’s Non-Regulatory Guidance, Question A-2,)


The federal McKinney-Vento Act and New York Education Law Section 3209 provide important school selection and enrollment protections to preschool-12th grade students in temporary housing. Parents or unaccompanied youth in temporary housing may have up to three choices to enroll in school. They can choose:


  • The school attended or was entitled to attend when circumstances arose which caused the child or youth to become homeless.

  • The school last enrolled, even if the student was temporarily housed during that time, or

  • The local school where the student is currently temporarily housed.

2: Can a school district decline a MV eligible student’s enrollment based on lack of documentation (such as birth certificates)?

3: What does a family need to provide to the district to register their children under McKinney-Vento?

4: How can the McKinney-Vento liaison assist the family in the enrollment process?



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