According to the best interest of the student, school districts must continue to serve a homeless student’s education in his or her school of origin or enroll the student in the school that other non-homeless students living in the same area where the homeless student resides would attend. The “school of origin” is defined as the school the homeless student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled. In determining the best interest of the student, districts must, to the extent possible, keep students in the school of origin, unless it is against the wishes of the student’s parents.
A homeless child’s right to attend their school of origin extends for the duration of their homelessness. If a student becomes permanently housed during the academic year, he or she is entitled to stay in the school of origin for the remainder of the academic year. Students who become homeless in between academic years are entitled to attend their school of origin for the following academic year.
If a district sends a homeless student to a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent, the district must provide the parents with a written explanation, including the right to appeal under the enrollment disputes provision of the McKinney-Vento Act.
In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the local homeless liaison must assist in placement/enrollment decisions, consider the youth’s wishes, and provide notice to the youth of the right to appeal under the enrollment disputes provisions. The choice regarding placement must be made regardless of whether the child or youth resides with the homeless parent or has been temporarily placed elsewhere.
(Summary of McKinney-Vento and Title I Provisions. 2002. National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE), National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) and National Network for Youth (NN4Y))