Homeless Policy and Procedures
WHAT HOMELESS FAMILIES NEED TO KNOW:
- Charles Obremski, Assistant Superintendent of Business Affairs, is the Homeless Liaison for students and families in the Everett Public Schools.
- Children and youth experiencing homelessness have the right to attend school.
- A permanent address is not needed to enroll in school.
- Children in homeless situations have the right to stay in the school they attend before becoming homeless or where they last enrolled (school of origin) if the parent or guardian so chooses.
- Schools must provide a written explanation if a placement dispute occurs; parents/guardians may contact the District’s Homeless Liaison.
- A homeless child cannot be denied school enrollment just because school records or other enrollment documentation are not immediately available and must be enrolled immediately.
- A homeless child has the right to participate in extracurricular activities and all federal, state, or local programs for which he/she is eligible
- A homeless child is entitled to free breakfast and lunch, transportation assistance and to receive Title I services.
- Unaccompanied youth, homeless youth not living with parent(s) or guardian(s), have these same rights.
McKinney-Vento Definition of Homeless
A homeless student is one who:
- Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations
- Live in cars, parks, public places, abandoned buildings, sub-standard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
- Sharing housing of other persons due to the loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
- Living in emergency or transitional shelters; or abandoned in hospitals
- Living in primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- Considered an unaccompanied youth (youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian)
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless
The goal of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act is to ensure that each homeless child or youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, and extra-curricular activities, as provided to other children and youths. The Everett Public Schools (EPS) shall ensure that every effort is made to comply with this legislation.
The McKinney-Vento Act requires that every school district designate a staff person to serve as the Homeless Education Liaison, whose role is to assist homeless students enrolling in school, remove all barriers to enrollment, ensure that homeless students receive the educational services for they are eligible and have access to all school activities and events. This liaison may have other duties within the school district. The liaison for the Everett Public Schools is Charles Obremski, Assistant Superintendent of Business Affairs. He may be reached by phone at 617-394-2400, Ext. 6121, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is located at 121 Vine St., Everett, MA 02149.
The Everett Public Schools will immediately enroll homeless students in school, even if they do not have the documents usually required for enrollment — such as school records, medical records, proof of residency, discipline records, or birth certificate. Futhermore:
• Homeless students have a right to either remain in their school of origin or to attend school where they are temporarily residing. Everett Public Schools will make school placement determinations on the basis of the “best interest” of the homeless child or youth based on student-centered factors.
• Students who choose to remain in their school of origin have the right to remain there until the end of the school year in which they get permanent housing; the Homeless Education Liaison will assist students who arrive without records by contacting the previously attended school system to obtain the required records.
The Everett Public Schools shall ensure that transportation is provided according to state guidelines, at the request of the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth, to and from the school of origin:
• If the homeless student continues to live in the area served by the district in which the school of origin is located, that district must provide or arrange transportation according to the established school committee policy
• If the homeless student moves to an area served by another district, though continuing his or her education of the school of origin, the district in which the student resides must agree upon a method to apportion responsibility and costs for transportation to the school of origin. If the districts cannot agree upon such a method, the responsibility and costs must be shared equally.
ACCESS TO COMPARABLE SERVICES
Homeless students are to be provided services and education programs comparable to those received by other students and for which they meet eligibility criteria, such as services provided under Title I or similar state or local programs for students with disabilities; programs for students with limited English proficiency; vocational or technical programs; gifted and talented programs; tutoring; MCAS/PARC remediation; homework assistance; referral to counseling; medical services; school supplies; and school nutrition programs. Homeless students will be enrolled immediately in the free breakfast and lunch program.
NOTE: To expedite the delivery of nutritional benefits, school officials may accept documentation that students are homeless from the local educational liaison or the director of homeless shelters where students reside as the determination of eligibility for free lunch.
ACCESS TO PRESCHOOL
An important goal of McKinney-Vento is to offer homeless preschoolers the same opportunity to enroll, and attend and succeed in preschool as non-homeless preschoolers, thereby minimizing their educational disruption due to homelessness.
If a dispute arises over school selection (school of origin or school in which homeless child is residing) or enrollment, the Everett Public Schools will immediately enroll the homeless student, pending resolution of the dispute, and must provide the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth with both a written statement of the school placement decision and a notice of the right to appeal the decision. The EPS shall refer the unaccompanied youth, parent or guardian to the Homeless Education Liaison, who will expeditiously carry out the dispute resolution process. Disputes that cannot be resolved within the district shall be sent to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the final decision in such a situation residents with the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education.
Unaccompanied youth are youth who are homeless not in the physical custody of a parent/guardian, and ot on the custody of a state agency. This definition includes youth living on the street in inadequate housing, denied housing by their families, those who have left home voluntarily, even when their parent(s) want them to return home and youth doubled with friends or relatives. Everett Public Schools recognizes that unaccompanied homeless youths often face unique barriers in enrolling and succeeding in school. Everett Public Schools provides targeted support to unaccompanied homeless youth and can work with community and state agencies to support unaccompanied youth.
CHILDREN OR YOUTH IN FOSTER CARE
Children and youth in foster care are children/youth who receive 24-hour substitute care and are place away from their parents or guardians and for whom a child welfare agency has placement and care responsibility. This includes, but is not limited to, placements in foster family homes, foster homes of relative, group homes, emergency shelter, residential facilities, child care institutions and pre-adoptive homes, Children/youth are entitled to remain their school of origin (the school in which a child is enrolled at the time of placement in foster care) unless a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest. Transportation for such children will be provided and arranged through a collaboration with child welfare agencies to ensure that children/youth in foster care have access to education and extracurricular activities.
Everett Community Resources
Families in Need
• Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (food, job and cash assistance and emergency shelter): 617-629-1400
• ABCD-Malden (Homelessness, Food Stamps, Fuel Assistance, Immigration, Healthcare, Free Tax Help, etc.): 617-321-3431
• Shelter for Battered Women and Their Children: Emergency line is 617-661-7203. For general information, call 617-354-2676.
• CASPAR Emergency Service Center (assistance for homeless men and women with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol): 617-661-0600.
• Just a Start Community Development Corporation (transitional housing and tenant/landlord mediation): 617-494-0444.
• Massachusetts HEATLINE (fuel assistance): 1-800-632-8175
• Youth Harbors: 617-270-3934
• City of Everett Human Services Department: 617-394-2260.
• Everett Teen Center: 857-363-2611