Homeless Students: Enrollment Rights and Services

  • As required by law, the District will work with homeless children and youth and unaccompanied youth (collectively, "homeless students") as well as their families or legal guardians 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 Title I, similar state programs, special education, bilingual education, school nutrition programs, summer programming and extracurricular activities.

    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, economic hardship, or similar reason;
    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. Living in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings;
    6. Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations or similar settings; and
    7. Migratory children living in conditions described in the previous examples.

    Students Remaining in Schools of Origin
    It is presumed to be in the best interest of homeless students to remain in their schools of origin, i.e. the school that the student was attending at the time he or she became homeless, or the last school the student attended prior to becoming homeless.  Homeless students may continue to attend their school of origin for as long as they remain homeless or until the end of the academic year in which they obtain permanent housing.  For homeless students who complete the final grade level served by the school of origin, the term "school of origin" shall also include the receiving school in the same school district educating students at the next grade level.

    Homeless students are entitled to transportation comparable to that provided for all other students attending school in the District.  The District will transport students who are sheltered or temporarily residing within the District to the students' school of origin.  For homeless students attending a school of origin located outside the district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing, the district in which the school of origin is located will coordinate with the district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing to provide the transportation services necessary for the student, and these districts will divide the cost equally.  Formerly homeless students who find permanent housing mid-school year will continue to receive transportation services until the end of the school year.

    Students Enrolling in District Where Sheltered or Temporarily Residing
    Parents or guardians may elect to enroll homeless students in the school district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing, rather than having the student remain in the school of origin.  Enrollment changes for homeless students should take place immediately.

    If homeless students are unable to provide written proof of their shelter or temporary residence in the district, the homeless liaison will work with the family seeking enrollment to determine homelessness.  Information regarding a homeless student's living arrangement shall be considered a student education record, and not directory information.  Records containing information about the homeless student's living arrangement may not be disclosed without the consent of the parent or satisfaction of another student-privacy related exemption.

    If the student does not have immediate access to immunization records, the student shall be permitted to enroll 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.  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.  After enrollment, the district will immediately request available records from the student's previous school.

    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 who reside in the District.  Accordingly, the District will provide transportation services to school in a manner comparable to the transportation provided for all other students in the District.

    Dispute Resolution 
    If the District disagrees with a parent or guardian's decision to keep a student enrolled in the school of origin and considers enrollment in the district where the student is sheltered or temporarily residing to be in the student's best interest, the District will explain to the parent, in writing and in a language the parent can understand, the rationale for its determination and provide parent with written notice of their rights to appeal the District's determination to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  During the pendency of any such appeal, the student should remain enrolled in the school selected by the parent or guardian, receiving transportation to school and access to other available services and programs. 

    The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Advisory on Homeless Education Assistance contains additional information about educating homeless students and the appeal process.

    This advisory is available at the following link:  http://www.doe.mass.edu/mv/haa/mckinney-vento.docx

    Homeless Liaison    
    The Superintendent shall designate an appropriate staff person to be the District's liaison for homeless students and their families.  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 locations such as 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.  The liaison shall ensure District staff receive professional development and other support on issues involving homeless students.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR STUDENTS:

  • CHAPTER 76: SECTION 5. PLACE OF ATTENDANCE; VIOLATIONS; DISCRIMINATION 
    Every person shall have a right to attend the public schools of the town where he actually resides, subject to the following section.  No school committee is required to enroll a person who does not actually reside in the town unless said enrollment is authorized by law or by the school committee.  Any person who violates or assists in the violation of this provision may be required to remit full restitution to the town of the improperly-attended public schools.  No person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. 

    SCHOOL COMMITTEE POLICY JCAC: RESIDENCY POLICY FOR THE RANDOLPH PUBLIC SCHOOLS
    According to the Randolph Public Schools Residency Policy, to attend the Randolph Public Schools, a student must actually reside in the Town of Randolph.  Temporary residence solely for the purpose of attending school is not sufficient for enrollment.  Further, students who are enrolled in the District shall be required to re-establish residency prior to entering grades six (6) and nine (9), and during other times as determined by the Superintendent or designee.

    When the District suspects that a family of a current Randolph Public School student lives outside of Randolph, the student's residency will be subject to further inquiry/investigation. Students found to be in violation of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 76: Section 5 may be dismissed immediately from the Randolph Public Schools and parent(s), guardian(s) or responsible adult(s) may be jointly and severally liable to the Randolph Public Schools for the student’s tuition for the full academic year(s).  The Randolph Public Schools may also impose other penalties on the family such as legal fees incurred by legal action and the withholding of certain scholarships and prizes.  All applicants must reside in our town (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 76: Section 5).

    ENROLLMENT OF HOMELESS STUDENTS

    The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act requires that school districts immediately enroll homeless students in school, even if they do not have the documents usually required for enrollment, such as school records, medical records or proof of residency. ***

    Randolph Public Schools Homeless Education Liaison can be reached at 781-961-6237 for more assistance.


    ***The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted Section 725(2) of Act regarding the definition of homeless children and youth:

     

    • individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence or have a primary nighttime residence in a supervised, publicly or privately, operated shelter for temporary accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill), an institution providing temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or a public or private place not designated for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

     

    This definition shall include:

    • children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals; 
    • children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; 
    • children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; 
    • migratory children (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above; and
    • unaccompanied youth is a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

    In addition, according to McKinney-Vento, a fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change. A regular residence is one which is used on a regular (i.e., nightly) basis. An adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments. Therefore, children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate residence will be considered homeless.

    Enforcement of the Residency Requirement:
    When the District suspects that a family of a current Randolph Public School student lives outside of Randolph, the student's residency will be subject to further inquiry/investigation. The Randolph Public Schools may suspect a student is not a resident if, for example, mail is returned due to an invalid address, the proofs of address submitted by the parent are inconsistent or suspicious, or for other reasons upon the discretion of the Superintendent or designee. 

    During the course of the investigation, the District may ask for additional documentation, may use the assistance of the District's residency investigator(s), and/or may obtain the services of the police or investigative agency personnel to conduct investigations into student residency.  The residency investigator(s) will report the findings to the Superintendent, who shall make the final determination of residency. 

    Students found to be in violation of the residency policy may be dismissed immediately from the Randolph Public Schools and parent(s) or guardian(s) may be jointly and severally liable to the Randolph Public Schools for the student's tuition for the full academic year(s). The Randolph Public Schools may also impose other penalties on the family such as legal fees incurred by legal action and the withholding of certain scholarships and prizes. All applicants must reside in the town of Randolph, MA. (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 76, section 5 provides in pertinent part: Every person shall have a right to attend the public schools of the town where he/she actually resides, subject to the following section. No school committee is required to enroll a person who does not actually reside in the town unless said enrollment is authorized by law or by the school committee. 

    Any person who violates or assists in the violation of this provision may be required to remit full restitution to the town of the improperly-attended public schools).