A mother and her three children were living in your district but due to unpaid rent, the family was evicted. They moved in with an aunt in a district that is 20 miles away from the school district of origin. Due to the distance from the district of origin, the mother would like to enroll her children in the district of local residence but one of her children has an IEP and is doing well in his school in the district of origin.
Can the mother enroll two of her children in the district of current location but maintain the enrollment of her third child in the district of origin?
Will the students get transportation if they enroll in different districts?
Updated Sample LEA Policy memo on the Education of Children in Temporary Housing (NYSED memo March 16, 2018)
Guiding the Discussion on School Selection NCHE brief Best Practices in Homeless Education Brief Series
1. Can the mother enroll two of her children in the district of current location but maintain the enrollment of her third child in the district of origin?
Yes, parents can enroll their children in different school districts depending on which districts are in the best interest of each child to attend.
According to § 3209. Education of homeless children, the designator shall have the right to designate one of the following as the school district within which the homeless child shall be entitled to attend upon instruction:
the school district of current location
the school district of origin
The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and NYS § 3209. Education of homeless children both provide important school selection and enrollment protections to preschool-12th grade students in temporary housing. When making decisions about school selection, an LEA must presume that keeping the homeless child or youth in the school of origin is in the child's or youth's best interest, except when doing so is contrary to the request of the child's or youth's parent or guardian, or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the youth. (Section 722(g)(3)(B)(i)). An LEA must also consider student-centered factors, including factors related to the impact of mobility on achievement, education, health, and safety of homeless children and youths, giving priority to the request of the child's or youth's parent or guardian or (in the case of an unaccompanied youth) the youth. (Section 722(g)(3)(B)(ii)).
The best interest determination is made on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it is in the best interest of M-V designated siblings (or half-siblings) to attend school in different districts (e.g., the district of origin or the district of current location). This is acceptable under the McKinney-Vento Act, so two children could enroll in the district of current location and one child can remain in the district of origin.
Here are some questions to consider when determining school selection.
How permanent does the family’s current living arrangement appear to be?
How connected is the student to the current school?
What are the academic needs of the child?
How do the programs at the local school compare with the programs at the school located within the district of origin?
How would the length of commute to and from the school district of origin impact the child?
The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) Brief, Guiding the Discussion on School Selection has a thorough discussion of best interest determination.
2. Will the students get transportation if they enroll in different districts?
Yes, students in temporary housing are entitled to transportation to their school in the district of origin if the distance is less than 50 miles door-to-door (unless permission is granted by the NYSED commissioner for a greater distance) and they are entitled to comparable transportation to permanently housed students in the district of current location. These provisions must be followed even if siblings attend schools in different districts.
According to the McKinney-Vento Act, students eligible under the McKinney-Vento Act are entitled to continued enrollment in the same school and transportation to that school of origin, or immediate enrollment in the local school. [42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(A)&(C); N.Y. Educ. Law § 3209(2)].
Here is the Transportation Guide that clarifies responsibilities in different situations in New York State.