Title I / Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) » Educating Homeless Students

Educating Homeless Students

Educating Homeless Students

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act are two federal laws designed to ensure that homeless students receive the educational opportunities that belong to all students. Although this information may not be applicable to you, you may know of a family for which the information may be useful.

According to federal law, homeless children or youth are those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition includes children and youth who:

  • Live with a friend, relative, or someone else because they lost their homes and cannot afford housing;
  • Live in a motel or hotel because they lack adequate alternative accommodations; or live in emergency or transitional shelters, in domestic violence shelters or in another like setting, or are awaiting foster care placement.
  • Unescorted youth who are unsheltered.

It is the intent of the federal legislation as much as possible to keep homeless students in the schools they attended when permanently housed or in which they were last enrolled, unless doing so is against the parents' or guardians' wishes. Homeless students:

  • May stay in those schools the entire time they are homeless and until the end of any academic year in which they move into permanent housing, including any extended school year program for which they are eligible, and
  • Must be provided, at parent/guardian request, with transportation to and from school, as long as it is feasible.

Parents/guardians of homeless students also may choose to enroll their children in any public school that students who live in the attendance area of the homeless family’s temporary residence are eligible to attend. If the school district decides to send a homeless student to a school other than that school, the district must provide the parent/guardian with a written explanation of that decision and of the parent’s/guardian’s right of appeal. During an appeal process, the homeless student will be allowed to attend the school chosen by the parent/guardian.

Children living in homeless situations must be allowed to enroll in school and attend classes even if they do not have all of the required medical records and proof of residency. Personnel at the school of enrollment will work with the parents/guardians to obtain all required documents.

Please direct questions related to the education of homeless students to your child’s principal or to district personnel at (310) 263-3168.