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McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act

McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act

Definition

The federal definition of homelessness used by all public schools in the United States includes children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition specifically includes children and youth living in shelters, transitional housing, cars, campgrounds, motels, and sharing the housing of others temporarily due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reasons. This is the same definition of homelessness used by Head Start, special education, child nutrition, and other federal family and youth programs. 

The Rights of Homeless Students

Students who meet the definition of "Homeless" and are identified or identify themselves as such have the right to:

  • Receive a free, appropriate public education;
  • Enroll in school immediately, even if they lack documents normally required for enrollment (i.e. birth certificates, transcripts, vaccinations, etc.);
  • Enroll in school and attend classes while the school works with the family/student to gather the needed documents;  
  • Enroll in the local school; or continue attending the school they last attended, if that is their preference and is possible.  If the district believes that the school chosen is not in the student's best interest, a written explanation will be provided and the student has the right to appeal this decision;
  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if requested; and,
  • Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students, according to the student's needs.

Identification

At Catoosa Public Schools, students are primarily identified at enrollment or through the school Counselor or Administration Office.  Families or students’ who believe that they are homeless, should identify themselves as such to the school Counselor.

Dispute Process 

Parents/Guardians/Students who feel that their request to enroll has been incorrectly denied or wish to contest their child's placement should be encouraged to contact the Director of Federal Programs for consultation. 

Should the final result of the district dispute process be unsatisfactory to the parent/guardian/student, they may appeal the district’s final decision by contacting the State Homeless Liaison at the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

 

Homeless Liaison

Catoosa Public Schools is required to identify a person to act as a Homeless Liaison.  This person's duties involve training school staff in identification procedures, serving as an advocate for homeless students, arranging for services and arbitrating disputes that may arise.

Catoosa Public Schools – Homeless Liaison:  Paula Haueter, Director of Federal Programs

918-266-8617 or phaueter@catoosa.k12.ok.us

 

Foster Care Plan 

The Catoosa Public School District is committed to provide all students with sound educational experiences,  We recognize that foster children are at an increased risk of grade retention, gaps in academic achievement, low high school graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment.  The provisions promote greater stability for children in foster care so that they can continue their education without disruption, maintain important relationships with peers and adults, and have the opportunity to achieve college and career readiness.  

The educational stability includes assurance that:

  • A child in foster care will remain in the child’s school of origin, unless a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest in that school and
  • If a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, the child will be immediately enrolled in the school of residence, even if the child is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment.

Enrollment of Foster Care Students

Foster care parents, social workers or other legal guardians will be allowed to immediately enroll children in Catoosa Public Schools.  We understand that all necessary paperwork (birth certificates, shot records, academic records, special education records, etc.) may not be immediately available and want to provide a smooth transition for the student into our district. Catoosa Public Schools will contact the home school district for the records and make adaptations as needed. After enrollment the following guardianship or legal custody documents shall be provided for verification by the foster family or Child Welfare Agency (CWA).

Power of attorney, affidavit, court orders, etc.

IDEA

The IDEA, Part B directs shool districts must make a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) available to all eligible children with disabilities in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).  FAPE under IDEA includes the provision of special education and related services at no cost to the parents in accordance with a properly developed Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Each child’s placement decision must be made by a group of knowledgeable persons.

The Catoosa Public School District will operate in accordance with all state and federal laws regarding special education students.  Special education services will be provided to foster care students as they are to all students following the guidelines below:

  • Educational placement will be determined annually and will be based on the child’s IEP in accordance with the child’s individual needs.
  • The child will be place in the least restrictive environment and unless they require some other arrangement they will attend the school that he/she would attend if not disabled.
  • Timely and expedited evaluations and eligibility determinations for highly mobile children with disabilities will be made when possible.
  • Children in foster care will have access to related aids and services that are designed to meet their educational needs.
  • Children will have access to comparable services including summer and extended school year services if applicable.
  • Children in foster care will not be discriminated against and are considered a protected group.

EL Students

Catoosa Public School District will ensure that EL students in foster care will participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs by doing the following:

  • Identifying and assessing all potential EL students in a timely, valid and reliable manner;
  • Provide EL students with a language assistance program that is educationally sound and proven successful
  • Sufficiently staff and support the language assistance programs for EL students;
  • Ensure that EL students have equal opportunities to meaningfully participate in all curricular and extra-curricular activities;
  • Avoid unnecessary segregation of EL students;
  • Ensure that EL students with disabilities are evaluated in a timely and appropriate manner for special education and disability-related services and that their language needs are considered in these evaluations and delivery of services;
  • Meet the needs of EL students who opt out of language assistance programs;
  • Monitor and evaluate EL students in language assistance programs following federal guidelines;
  • Continue to evaluate the effectiveness of school districts language assistance program and progress of each student;
  • Ensure meaningful communication with the parents of the students.

Transportation

The Catoosa Public School District will collaborate with the Child Welfare Agency (CWA) to develop and implement clear written procedures governing how transportation is provided to maintain children in foster care in their schools of origin.  Catoosa Public School District will also work with Child Welfare Agency to reach an agreement in regards to covering the transportation costs.  The agreement will cover how the transportation will be provided, arranged, and funded for the duration of the child’s time in foster care.  Each agreement can/will vary greatly because the needs of each child should be considered in making the decision on transportation. 

 

Student Records

Catoosa Public Schools will share educational records with CWA that are allowed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  This allows educational agencies to disclose without parental consent educational records, include IDEA, of students in foster care to State and Tribal agencies.

 

Foster Care Liaison - Paula Haueter

Catoosa Public Schools

918-266-8617

phaueter@catoosa.k12.ok.us