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Tales from the Field: Supporting MV Eligible Students with Disabilities

Many of our helpline calls involve cases with students who have disabilities with an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) and special class placements. The role of the district liaison is to work collaboratively with the special education office to assist the family with enrollment, school selection, and transfer of school records (including the IEP). Often, liaisons are not aware of the variety of options available for students with special needs.

 

The Tale:

A mother with two children (ages 4 and 9) was permanently housed in a district in the Southern Tier region of NY. The two children attended special education programs and have IEPs. The mother had a horrible accident which caused her to be permanently disabled and unable to care for the children. The students were placed by CPS and they went to live with their aunt who lives an hour away and does not have legal custody of them although she plans to file for custody in the future. The oldest child is a student with a learning disability and has an IEP for related services including modifications/accommodations in the classroom. The new district was able to enroll and create a program for the child immediately. However, the youngest child is a preschooler who was evaluated and found eligible for services under the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) and had been attending an integrated preschool program in the previous district’s UPK (Universal Prekindergarten) class. Upon enrollment in the new district of current residence, the district told the aunt they do not have a UPK integrated classroom, and he could receive home-based related services until the fall when he will be school-aged. The aunt doesn’t believe this is in the child’s best interest and wants to know about the district’s responsibilities for a preschool child with special needs.

 

Questions to ask:

  1. Are these students McKinney-Vento eligible? 

  2. Can a school district decline a preschooler’s enrollment based on lack of special education openings?

  3. Who determines the “best interest” of the preschool student with an IEP?

  4. What steps should be taken to plan an appropriate program for a preschool child with a disability?

 

Resources:


1: Are these students 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,) 

 

Answer: Yes, based on a housing change due to the mother’s accident, and because the children are not living with a person who has legal custody of them, the students are McKinney-Vento eligible and also should be designated as Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (UHY).

2: Can a school district decline a preschooler’s enrollment based on lack of special education openings?

3: Who determines the “best interest” of the preschool student with an IEP?

4: What steps should be taken to plan an appropriate program for a preschool child with a disability?


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