Public Law 100-77 (also known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987) Subtitle VII-B authorizes the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. This is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It was most recently reauthorized in December 2015 by Public Law 114-95 (also known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA) Title IX, Part A. This federal legislation prescribes a process for addressing the needs of identified homeless students, aiming to ensure immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth. Pennsylvania's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program (ECYEH) was established to ensure homeless youth have access to a free and appropriate education (FAPE) while removing barriers that homeless children face. The Director of Pupil Services reports identification of students as the designated Homeless Liaison for the North Pocono School District.
Identification During Initial Enrollment
District enrollment, as outlined on the district website, occurs at Central Registration which is located at North Pocono Intermediate School at 701 Church Street, Moscow, Pennsylvania. If homelessness is identified:
- The student is immediately enrolled.
- The registration office, along with the parent/guardian, will complete the ECYEH Confidential Referral Form.
- A copy of the Referral Form is forwarded to the Director of Pupil Services on the day of enrollment — original documentation will remain in the student's educational file.
- The student is registered (https://egd.aiu3.net/ecyeh), and transportation is arranged.
- An enrollment packet is forwarded to the receiving school, and guidance/administration is notified of the homeless status.
- Once notification is received at the building level, Title I and free breakfast / lunch is notified to begin services.
- The parent/guardian is provided with packet of resource materials and the assistance of a counselor/social worker is offered.
- Guidance/administration will continue to monitor student and homeless status.
Updates occur upon notification of a homeless student's change in residences, withdrawal from school, and/or new enrollment.
Identification or Suspicion of Homelessness or Potential Homelessness After Initial Enrollment
- The building level counselor/ administration is immediately notified.
- The building level counselor/administration contacts Director of Pupil Services.
- If already identified, a packet of resource materials and the assistance of a counselor/social worker is offered.
- Transportation, Title l, and/or free breakfast and lunch will be arranged if not already in place.
- If not already identified as homeless, the process will begin as outlined above.
Pennsylvania Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
The North Pocono School District is committed to providing a free and appropriate education to all students. Students who are experiencing Homelessness or those students who live in emergency housing, motels, hotels, cars, and other non-permanent housing situations are entitled to the following:
- Homeless students temporarily residing outside of the North Pocono School District are eligible for transportation to allow them to participate in their school of origin.
- If a student moves between emergency and / or transitional housing, transportation to the school of origin will continue at the request of the parent / guardian.
Free and Reduced Meals
- Students identified as runaway, homeless, and/or migrant are eligible for free meals under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
- Household income is not a factor for eligibility. Eligibility can be certified by the District's homeless liaison, a school administrator, a local shelter director, or a runaway / homeless youth service provider, and / or children's protective services representative.
- Documentation of free meal eligibility must consist of the student's name and the effective date. No application is required and the process will be expedited to provide meals as quickly as possible.
- A student who is deemed eligible for free meals will remain eligible for the remainder of the school even if homeless status changes.
Title I and Support Services
- The North Pocono School District recognizes that homeless status should not hinder a student from making gains academically and socially therefore, all district and building level resources will be made available for student experiencing homelessness.
- Title I and Student Assistance Programs (SAP) will be utilized to monitor progress.
Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homeless Dispute Resolution Process
Pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Act, every state must develop procedures for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding the educational placement of homeless children and yours. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(C). The state must ensure that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) comply with requirements set forth in the McKinney-Vento Act including ensuring immediate enrollment, providing written notice to families concerning school selection, enrollment decisions and providing enrollment and pendency in the school of choice while a dispute is being resolved. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(2)(A).
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has developed the following procedures to govern the resolution of disputes regarding enrollment, school selection, homeless status and complaints of non-compliance with legal requirements pertaining to the education for homeless children and youths:
Level 1: A dispute may be filed with the LEA
If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the child / youth involved must immediately be admitted to the school in which they are seeking enrollment, pending resolution of the dispute 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(E)(i). PDE recommends that the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth who initiates the dispute contact the LEA liaison for individuals experiencing homelessness as soon as possible after receiving the notice of the dispute. If the person initiating the dispute does not contact the LEA liaison directly, the LEA shall be responsible for contacting the LEA liaison regarding the dispute as soon as possible and referring the family or youth involved to the liaison.
The LEA liaison shall ensure that the child or youth is immediately enrolled, explain the dispute resolution process to the family and help them to use it. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(E)(iii). The LEA shall issue a written disposition of the dispute within 20 business days after the LEA liaison is notified of the dispute. The Disposition shall be provided to the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth and shall explain the basis for the decision and advise the parent, guardian or youth of the right to appeal. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(E)(i).
NOTE: The LEA should use and maintain copies of PDE's "Notice of procedural Safeguards" form which ensures that all LEAs: (a) inform families of the basis of their decision regarding enrollment or school selection; (b) notifies families of their right to remain in their school of choice pending resolution of the dispute; and (c) explains the procedures for challenging the decisions of the LEA.
Level 2: A dispute may be filed with a McKinney-Vento coordinator
If the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth is dissatisfied with the LEA's disposition of a dispute or would like to raise any issue of the McKinney-Vento Act noncompliance, they may file a complaint or appeal with a McKinney-Vento site or regional coordinator or with the state coordinator. In lieu of filing an appeal with a McKinney-Vento coordinator, a parent / guardian / unaccompanied youth may elect to appeal the LEA decision directly to a court of competent jurisdiction. Participation in the appeal procedure is not required prior to taking legal action.
- Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youths should be informed that they can provide written or oral documentation to support their position; and
- Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youths should be given the opportunity to challenge the school system's assertions.
A regional or site coordinator with whom a complaint or appeal is filed must notify the state coordinator immediately. Upon being notified, the state coordinator will review the complaint or appeal and assign it to a site or regional coordinator for disposition. The coordinator to whom the appeal is assigned may contact, interview and accept documentation from any individual or LEA involved, and shall issue a written disposition within 20 business days after the complaint or appeal has been assigned. The disposition shall be provided to the LEA and the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth involved. The child or youth shall continue to be enrolled in the school in which he / she is seeking enrollment until the complaint or appeal is resolved or until a disposition from the a McKinney-Vento coordinator is received.
If a decision cannot be reached or agreed upon at the regional coordinator level, the dispute will be forwarded to the state coordinator for resolution. The state coordinator will view all information and interview all concerned parties involved. The Office of Chief Counsel will be included in the resolution process as needed. If mediation services are needed, the state coordinator will assist in the mediation and may also invite those involved to have the dispute mediated at any time in the process through the Dispute Resolution Program operated by the Commonwealth Office of General Counsel (OGC). The OGC Dispute Resolution Program is a voluntary informal process through which a trained mediator assists in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution.
Participating in mediation is not a waiver of the right to file a lawsuit nor is participation in mediation required prior to taking legal action.
NOTE: Any dispute raised by a homeless family or youth concerning school enrollment or any other right under the McKinney-Vento Act whether received via telephone, letter, email or any mode of communication shall be treated as a complaint.
Dr. Donna Carey
P (570) 842-3957