North Adams Community Schools Policy on Education and Homelessness
North Adams Community Schools gives credence to ensuring that our district has adequate preparation and resources in place to provide support to students who qualify for education under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act without discrimination or segregation.
Students will have equal access to educational programs and the opportunity to meet the same rigorous academic standards under established safeguards to protect each student's welfare.
The superintendent of North Adams Community Schools appoints a Liaison for Homeless Students each year to carry out the responsibilities to:
- Identify students of homeless status and coordinate appropriate activities with other entities and agencies;
- Communicate relevant issues with necessary school personnel;
- Ensure that identified students are enrolled in education and have full and complete, equal access to the opportunities to succeed;
- Coordinate educational services for which they are eligible, including referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health services, and/or referrals to Head Start, preschool programs, as appropriate;
- Educate and inform parents or guardians, of students that qualify for homeless education, of meaningful educational or related opportunities available for their students to participate in;
- Monitor and ensure students eligible for the McKinney-Vento Act receive integrated programs within existing services with peers to prevent isolation and/or stigmatization;
- Disseminate public information and notice of the education rights of homeless children/youth;
- Mediate enrollment disputes;
- Provide information regarding all transportation services to the school and assisting with the coordination efforts to provide such services; and
- Report to the State Coordinator for Homeless Education all necessary information to assess the educational needs of homeless children and youth at North Adams Community Schools.
The term "homeless students" means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and includes:
- Students 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; are abandoned in hospitals;
- Students 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;
- Students who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;
- Migratory students who qualify as homeless because the children are living in circumstances described above
The term “unaccompanied youth” includes a youth who is not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian.
North Adams Community Schools shall immediately admit students of homeless status, even if the student is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as: academic school records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documentation.
A professional employed by North Adams Community Schools will immediately contact the student's previous school attended to obtain relevant academic and related records.
Should the admitting student require immunizations, immunization records, or medical records, a member of North Adams Community Schools will refer parents/guardians of the student to the Liaison for Homeless Students. The corporation's liaison will assist families in obtaining necessary immunizations, immunization records, and/or medical records.
Determining A Student's Best Interest
In determining the best interest of the homeless student, the school shall:
- To the extent feasible, keep a homeless student at the school of origin except when doing so is contrary to the wishes of the student’s parent or guardian;
- Provide a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal, to the homeless student’s parent or guardian if the homeless student is sent to a school other than the school of origin or a school requested by the parent or guardian;
- In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the liaison for homeless students shall assist in placement or enrollment decisions, considering the views of such unaccompanied youth, and providing notice to such student of the right of appeal;
- Provide free breakfast and lunch, Title 1 services, and transportation to/from school of origin or school requested by the parent, if feasible and in the best interest of the student;
- Provide a quality education to homeless children and youths and include such students in all educational activities.