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Tales from the Field: Questions & Answers

NYSTEACHS is taking a different approach to our blog! Rather than reissue links and resources to our extensive professional learning resources and supports, Tales from the Field will provide real-time scenarios our team encounters on the helpline.

Let’s start with an actual scenario (everyone is anonymous of course, but represents an actual call to the helpline):

There was a family living in a Long Island town (we will call this school district #1). This family had two children in middle school. Unfortunately, the family lost their housing due to eviction. Unable to find housing on their own, they had to move in with their grandmother in another Long Island district (we will call this school district #2).


1. Is the family McKinney Vento eligible?

2. Can the mom send her children to two different school districts? If this mom called you as a liaison, what would you advise her to do BASED ON THE LAW?


1. First, 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 NYSTEACHS website.

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


Question 1: Is the Family 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,) Since this family lost housing due to an eviction and they are living “doubled-up”, they are eligible for McKinney-Vento benefits.

Question 2: Can the Mom send her children to two different school districts?

Yes. Siblings in temporary housing may choose to attend schools in different school districts, or in different zoned schools in the same district.

The federal McKinney-Vento Act and New York Education Law Section 3209 provide important school selection and enrollment protections to preschool-12 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 when they were last permanently housed, or

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

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

Next week: What happens when a family experiences a fire?

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