In December of 2001, Congress strengthened a law giving children and youth in a homeless situation the right to go to school, no matter where they live or how long they live there. The law is called the McKinney-Vento Act, and it gives children and youth in homeless situations the right to:
- stay in their school even if they move.
- enroll in a new school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records or other papers.
- get transportation to school.
- go to pre-school programs.
- get all the school services they need.
- have disagreements with schools settled quickly.
- go to their school of origin while disagreements are settled.
The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law, passed in 1987 to help people experiencing homelessness. Part of the law protects the rights of children and youth who are homeless to go to school. The law says that a child or youth without a fixed, regular and adequate residence is homeless. It does not matter how long the child or youth has been without a home. It also does not matter if the child or youth is living with a parent or is separated from parents. Under the Act, students are homeless if they are:
- living with a friend, relative or someone else because they lost their home or can’t afford a home;
- staying in a motel or hotel due to lack of affordable housing;
- living in an emergency or transitional shelter or a domestic violence shelter;
- staying in substandard housing;
- living in a car, park, public place, abandoned building or bus or train station;
- awaiting foster care placement;
- living in a campground or an inadequate trailer home;
- abandoned in a hospital; or
- living in a runaway or homeless youth shelter.
Migrant children, pre-school children, and youth on their own are covered if they fit into one of these categories. Runaway youth can be considered homeless even if their families want them to come home. Students who live in any public or private place that is not supposed to be a regular residence is covered.
According to the school policy, homeless students being served at PACE will have access to the education and other services needed to ensure that an opportunity is available to meet the same academic achievement standards to which all students are held. PACE will ensure that homeless students are not stigmatized nor segregated on the basis of their status as homeless. A homeless student will be admitted to PACE in alignment with the school’s established enrollment policy. Transportation will be provided to and from the student’s current school of origin at the request of the parent, or in the case of an unaccompanied student, the district’s liaison for homeless students.
For more information, contact Dr. Melanie Vaughn at 803.900-0664.