at Advocates for Children
151 West 30th Street
New York, NY 10001
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: Special Education
Children and youth who are homeless are entitled to the same special education services available to permanently housed students in the school district. Special education is defined as specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, at no cost to parents. The McKinney-Vento Act, together with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) work to ensure that the needs of homeless students with disabilities are met. LEAs must coordinate McKinney-Vento and special education services within the LEA. IDEA 2004 Part A, Section 602(29). 42 U.S.C. § 11432 (g)(5)(D).
What is Special Education?
Special education is specifically designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, at no cost to parents. 20 U.S.C.§ 1401 (29)
Are children and youth who are homeless entitled to special education services?
Children and youth who are homeless are entitled to the same special education services available to permanently housed students in the school district. The McKinney-Vento Act, together with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) work to ensure that the needs of homeless students with disabilities are met. 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(5)(D).
What is the process for having a student evaluated for special education services?
- The person who would like to have a student evaluated must make a referral to the district Committee on Special Education (CSE), explaining that they'd like an evaluation for the student. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(a)(6).
- Initial evaluations must be completed within 60 calendar days of the date a parent gave consent for the evaluation. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(b)(7).
- Students must be provided appropriate special education services within 60 school days of when parental consent to evaluate was given. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(d).
What happens when a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) changes school districts?
If a temporarily housed student changes school districts, the new school district must immediately provide comparable services to those in the IEP. The new district can then hold an IEP meeting to either adopt the IEP or implement a new one. IDEA 2005 Section 614(d)(2)(C)(i).
What happens if the child changes school districts before evaluations are completed?
In this case, the 60-day time frame (see box to the left) no longer applies, but only if the new school district is making sufficient progress to ensure a prompt completion of the evaluation AND the parent and the LEA agree to a specific time when the evaluation will be completed. IDEA 2004 Section 614(a)(1)(C)(ii)
What is a surrogate parent?
A surrogate parent is a person appointed by the school district to act as a parent on matters related to special education for a student whose parent is unavailable. Surrogate parents cannot be employees of the LEA/school district or any agency responsible for the care of the student (e.g. department of social service caseworkers), cannot have a conflict of interest with the student, and must have the knowledge and skills to adequately represent the student. LEAs are required by law to keep a list of available surrogate parents in the school district. Federal Regulations Section 300.519.
When must a surrogate parent be appointed?
Surrogate parents should be appointed within 30 calendar days when the parent is unavailable. Please note that the definition of parent in the IDEA is very broad and includes a foster parent and individual with whom the student lives and who is acting in the place of a natural parent. (IDEA 2004 Section 612(23)). Unaccompanied youth should be appointed a surrogate parent when a parent is unavailable. IDEA 2004 Section 615(b)(2).
What are the responsibilities of a surrogate parent?
The person selected as a surrogate parent:
- can represent (speak for) the child in all matters about the identification, evaluation, educational placement and the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.
- must have the knowledge/skills to represent (speak for) the child
- cannot have any interests which conflict with the interests of the child he or she represents, i.e. cannot be employed by the LEA.
What are temporary surrogate parents?
Temporary surrogate parents can represent unaccompanied homeless youth who are waiting for a surrogate parent to be appointed so as to prevent any delay in services. Staff members of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs, street outreach programs, and staff from the LEA/school district can serve as temporary surrogate parents for unaccompanied youth, when appropriate.
What is the process for having a student evaluated for preschool special education services?
The person who would like to initiate the evaluation must make a referral to the district Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Chair, explaining that they'd like an evaluation for the student. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.4(a)(6). The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) must make an eligibility determination as well as service and/or placement recommendations within 30 school days of when parental consent was given. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(d)&(e)). The district must implement the CPSE recommendations on the nearest July, September or January start date, or within 30 school days from a CPSE recommendation made within 30 days of the July, September or January program start date. 8 N.Y.C.R.R. § 200.16(f).
Upcoming Workshops and Trainings
04/04/17 McKinney-Vento Enhanced Grantee Meeting (Invite Only)
04/05/17 McKinney-Vento Baseline Grantee Meeting (Invite Only)
03/16/17 Early Childhood Education Programs for Children in Temporary Housing (NYS, Outside of NYC)
03/21/17 Trauma-Sensitivity and School Success (All Audiences)
03/22/17 Early Childhood Education Programs for Children in Temporary Housing (NYC)