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Homeless Services

Walpole Public Schools Homeless Liaison for 2016 - 2017:

Rhonda Taft-Farrell, Ed. D  - 508-660-7200 x227

Transportation for Homeless for 2016 - 2017:

508-660-7200 x227

 

HOMELESS STUDENTS
ENROLLMENT RIGHTS AND SERVICES 

The Walpole Public Schools complies with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and intends that homeless children have equal access to all educational programs and services offered by Walpole Public Schools. Homeless students will not be separated from the mainstream school environment.

To the extent practical and as required by law, the district will work with homeless students and their families to provide stability in school attendance and other services. Special attention will be given to ensuring the enrollment and attendance of homeless students not currently attending school. Homeless students will be provided district services for which they are eligible, including Head Start and comparable pre-school programs, Title I, similar state programs, special education, bilingual education, vocational and technical education programs, gifted and talented programs and school nutrition programs.

Definition:  Homeless students are defined as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, including: 

  1. Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing or economic hardship;
  2. Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  3. Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  4. Being abandoned in hospitals;
  5. Awaiting foster care placement;
  6. Living in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings;
  7. Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations or similar settings;
  8. Migratory children living in conditions described in the previous examples.

Liaison:  The Superintendent shall designate an appropriate staff person to be the district's liaison for homeless students and their families in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act. The role of the liaison is to assist homeless students enroll in school and to ensure that they receive the educational services for which they are eligible. The district’s liaison for homeless students and their families shall coordinate with local social service agencies that provide services to homeless children and youths and their families; other school districts on issues of transportation and records transfers; and state and local housing agencies responsible for comprehensive housing affordability strategies. This coordination includes providing public notice of the educational rights of homeless students in schools, family shelters and soup kitchens. The district’s liaison will also review and recommend amendments to district policies that may act as barriers to the enrollment of homeless students.

Enrollment:  To the extent feasible, homeless students will continue to be enrolled in their school of origin while they remain homeless or until the end of the academic year in which they obtain permanent housing. Instead of remaining in the school of origin, parents or guardians of homeless students may request enrollment in the school in the attendance area in which the student is actually living, or other schools. Attendance rights by living in attendance areas, other student assignment policies or intra and inter-district choice options are available to homeless families on the same terms as families resident in the district.

Once the enrollment decision is made, the school shall immediately enroll the student pursuant to district policies. If the student does not have immediate access to immunization records, the student shall be admitted under a personal exception. Students and families should be encouraged to obtain current immunization records or immunizations as soon as possible, and the district liaison is directed to assist. Records from the student's previous school shall be requested from the previous school pursuant to district policies. Emergency contact information is required at the time of enrollment consistent with district policies including compliance with the state's address confidentiality program when necessary.

Disputes:  If there is an enrollment dispute, the student shall be immediately enrolled in the school in which enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute. The parent or guardian shall be informed of the district's decision and their appeal rights in writing. The district's liaison will carry out dispute resolution as provided by state rule. Unaccompanied youth will also be enrolled pending resolution of the dispute. Final decisions in dispute resolution reside with the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education.

Transportation:  Homeless students are entitled to transportation to their school of origin or the school where they are to be enrolled. If the school of origin is in a different district, or a homeless student is living in another district but will attend his or her school of origin in this district, the districts will coordinate the transportation services necessary for the student or will divide the costs equally.

LEGAL REFS:
Title I, Part C
No Child Left Behind Act, 2002

Resources:
Department of Transitional Assistance, Boston (617) 348-8400
Mass. Coalition for the Homeless (781) 595-7570
Department of Housing and Community Development (617) 573-1100
Walpole Community Food Pantry (508) 668-7318
Mass Hotline:  Dial 2-1-1