at Advocates for Children
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The federal McKinney-Vento Act and New York Education Law Section 3209 provide important school selection and enrollment protections to preschool-12 students in temporary housing. Parents or unaccompanied youth in temporary housing may have up to three choices to enroll in school. They can choose:
- The school attended when they were last permanently housed, or
- The school last attended, even if the student was temporarily housed during that time, or
- The local school where the student is currently temporarily housed.
As soon as a parent or unaccompanied youth makes a school selection decision, the students have the right to immediate enrollment, even if they are missing documents usually required to enroll. Students also have the right to maintain enrollment for the rest of the academic year in which they find permanent housing, even if the new housing is outside of the school district where they attend school. In New York State, students may continue in the same school for an additional year if that year is the student's terminal year in the school (for example, 12th grade). Click on the links below to get more information on enrollment and school selection under the McKinney-Vento Act.
Find answers to commonly asked questions about enrollment for students in temporary housing situations.
Find answers to commonly asked questions about school selection for students in temporary housing situations.
National Center for Homeless Education: Enrolling Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness in School
This NCHE brief describes common enrollment barriers experienced by students in homeless situations; summarizes the key school enrollment provisions included in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and suggests strategies for ensuring the immediate school enrollment and full school participation of McKinney-Vento students.
Our Tip Sheets provide more detailed information about the rights of students experiencing homelessness, as well as useful contact information. Guides are available for New York State, New York City (English), New York City (Spanish), and Charter Schools.
This issue brief from NCHE provides basic information on the school selection rights of students in temporary housing.
This issue brief from NCHE provides information to help school officials in helping parents and youth select a school. The brief offers factors to consider and provides a helpful checklist.
For information on student immunization records and the McKinney-Vento Act, please see our page on immunizations
Housing Questionnaire [Word doc]
This new Housing Questionnaire should be used by all school districts as the first page of the enrollment packet for all newly enrolling students. The Housing Questionnaire should also be given to all students/families any time they report a change of address. The Housing Questionnaire was updated on November 11, 2016, and it replaces the former Enrollment Form/Residency Questionnaire. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires all LEAs that receive Title I funds (including school districts, charter schools, and BOCES) to use the Housing Questionnaire. NYSED also encourages all other LEAs, to use the Housing Questionnaire, because it asks about students' living arrangements in order to identify students experiencing homelessness in the school district.
Every Local Educational Agency must ensure that students who are experiencing homelessness are immediately enrolled in school. This is a Sample Enrollment Process that school districts may follow for immediately enrolling students experiencing homelessness.
Laws and Guidance
In July 2015, the NYSED Commissioner's Regulations governing enrollment of students in public school were amended to ensure that all students, and in particular unaccompanied youth, have timely access to school. The Regulations require that school districts accept a broader range of documents to establish residency and establish timelines for making residency determinations. The NYSED has produced brochures in multiple languages that districts can provide to parents so that they better understand the enrollment process. The brochure is currently available in: English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Karen, Nepali, Russian, and Urdu.
Important changes to New York State Education Law Section 3209 went into effect on April 20, 2017. Enrollment and school selection are discussed in sub-section (2)(a).
March 2017 - United States Department of Education Non-Regulatory Guidance for the Education for Homeless Children and Youths [PDF]
On March 2, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education updated their Non-Regulatory Guidance for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. This revised Non-Regulatory Guidance for the McKinney-Vento program replaces the July 2016 Guidance and includes new questions that reflect the amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act made by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which took effect on October 1, 2016, and new technical assistance on promising practices for implementing homeless education requirements at the State and local levels.
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, Reauthorized by Title IX Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act [PDF]
This document is the full text of the federal reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which went into effect on October 1, 2016. Enrollment and school selection are discussed in SEction 11432(g)(3)(c)(i) & (g)(3)(A).
Upcoming Workshops and Trainings
Stay tuned for our Fall 2018 workshop and training schedule.