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at Advocates for Children

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New York, NY 10001

TEL 800.388.2014
FAX 212.807.6872

PLEASE NOTE: In some cases, certain information on this page may not be current.

Important changes related to McKinney-Vento were included in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). The changes went into effect October 1, 2016, and include: expanded transportation protections until the end of the school year for temporarily housed students who move into permanent housing, the inclusion of preschool in the definition of "school of origin" (children can stay in their school of origin and receive transportation to that school), and changes to the dispute resolution process which include the provision of all McKinney-Vento related services (for example, continued enrollment and transportation) until a final decision is issued. For more information about ESSA changes to the McKinney-Vento Act, see the State Education Department's Field Memo regarding Implementation of Changes to McKinney-Vento Homeless Act as a Result of Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act.

Please continue to check here for updated information about how new laws will impact policies and procedures in New York State, and as always, feel free to contact NYS-TEACHS at 800-388-2014 with any questions you may have.

FAQs: School Selection

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, students in temporary housing have the right to attend their school of origin or the local school. The school of origin is defined as the school where the student was enrolled when last permanently housed or the school they last attended. The definition of school of origin also includes the designated receiving school at the next grade level for all feeder schools. The local school is any school where permanently housed students who are living in the same area can attend. 42 U.S.C. § 1432 (g)(3)(I); Education Law § 3209(2)(a)(1)-(3); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(2)(i).

Who decides where a temporarily housed student attends school?

In New York State, the "designator" decides which school district a temporarily housed child or youth will attend. A "designator" is:

  • the parent or person in parental relation (eg: guardian) to a homeless child; or
  • the homeless child, with the LEA liaison if no parent or guardian is available (eg: for unaccompanied youth); or
  • the director of a residential program for runaway and homeless youth, in consultation with the temporarily housed child, where a temporarily housed youth is living in such program.

N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(b); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2 (x)(1)(ii).

If a student was permanently housed in one town, and subsequently became homeless and was forced to move to another town, can the student continue to attend her original school?

Yes. Students designated as temporarily housed are entitled to immediate enrollment in and transportation to the school of origin, which is defined as the school attended when the student was permanently housed, or the last school the student attended. 42 U.S.C. § 1432 (g)(1)(J)(iii) & (g)(3)(A); N.Y. Education Law § 3209(2)(a).

How long can a student in temporary housing attend the designated school?

A student can attend the school of origin for the entire time the student is temporarily housed and throughout the remainder of the school year in which the student moves into permanent housing. The student can possibly attend one additional year after becoming permanently housed, if it is the student's terminal year in that school (i.e. 8th grade or 12th grade). 42 U.S.C. §1432 (g)(3)(A); N.Y. Education Law § 3209 (2); 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 100.2(x)(2)(ii).

What happens if a student chooses to attend the local school, and soon after decides that she would rather attend the school of origin?

Students in temporary housing have 60 days or until the end of the semester, whichever is later, to change schools. To do this, the designator (see above) will need to complete a new STAC-202 form. The liaisons in the school of origin and the local school should speak about the best process to transfer the student to the school of origin.

Does the McKinney-Vento Act cover students attending private schools?

Not usually. The McKinney-Vento Act only covers public schools students. However, in cases where a student with an IEP has been placed in a non-public school (NPS) or private school by the Committee on Special Education (CSE) at their public school district, the student is still protected by the McKinney-Vento Act. In such cases, if the student becomes homeless, she would be entitled to continued enrollment in the NPS placement and would be eligible to receive transportation to that school under McKinney-Vento. The McKinney-Vento Act does not apply to other students enrolled in private schools. See Transportation FAQs for more information about transportation to private schools.

Can a student who was attending private school transfer to a public school in the district of origin?

Under state law, students who were attending private school and are temporarily housed in another school district may enroll in public school in the district where they were last permanently housed, i.e. the district of origin, and receive transportation to that school. N.Y. Education Law § 3209(1)(c).

What happens if a student becomes temporarily housed within the same school district the child had attended, but in a different attendance zone from where the student was last permanently housed?

A temporarily housed student has the right to return to the same public school building where the student had previously attended while permanently housed, or enroll in the new local school. The student would have the right to choose between the school that is zoned for the area in which the student is temporarily residing, and the school the student had attending while permanently housed. 42 U.S.C. §1432 (g)(3)(I).

If a family with more than one school-age child becomes homeless, and the children would like to attend school in different school districts (i.e. one child would like to return to the school of origin, and the other child would like to enroll in the local school) can the family choose to do that?

Yes. Siblings in temporary housing may choose to attend school in different school districts, or in different zoned schools in the same district. Temporarily housed siblings do not necessarily have to attend school in the same district or the same school building.

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