Waterloo School District Procedure
Students Experiencing Homelessness

All children and youth within the Waterloo School District experiencing homelessness are provided with equal access to the District’s educational programs, have an opportunity to meet the same challenging State of Wisconsin and District academic standards, and are not segregated or discriminated against on the basis of their status as homeless.

Definitions

  1. Students experiencing homelessness (hereafter referred to as Students in Transition) are defined as individuals lacking a fixed, regular and nighttime residence, which include the following conditions:
    1. Temporarily sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
    2. Living in motels, hotels or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations
    3. Living in emergency, transitional or domestic violence shelters
    4. Abandoned in hospitals
    5. Awaiting foster care placement
    6. Living in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings
    7. Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations or similar settings
    8. Living as run-away children or children who are abandoned
    9. Abandoned or forced out of homes by parents/guardians or caretakers
    10. Living as migratory children in conditions described in previous examples
  2. “Unaccompanied youth” are defined as students who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian, including students who are runaways, abandoned or denied housing by their parents, and other youth without legal or participating caregiver, who are living in situations that are not fixed, regular or adequate.
  3. School of Origin is defined as the school the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled.
  4. School District of Residence is defined as attendance-area school or district where the student is currently sleeping at night.
  5. Permanent Housing is defined as any signed lease or long-term approved living situation. Self-paying day to day in a motel or apartment is not considered permanent housing. However, stable housing may be a consideration in developing the transition plan for the student. The student’s educational interests and the desire to have students engaged in their education within their district or school of residence are guiding factors.

Delegation of Responsibility

  1. The district’s liaison shall coordinate with:
    1. Local service agencies that provide services to children youth in transition and their families
    2. Other school districts on issues of records transfer and transportation
    3. State and local housing agencies responsible for comprehensive housing affordability strategies
  2. The district’s liaison shall provide public notice of the educational rights of students in transition in schools, family shelters and other community service agencies.
  3. The district’s liaison shall ensure that:
    1. Children and youth in transition residing in the district are identified by the school
    2. Children and youth in transition enroll in, and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in schools in the District
    3. Families, children and youths in transition receive educational services for which they are eligible and referrals to other appropriate services (i.e. health care services) to ensure they make educational progress
    4. The parent/guardian of a child and any unaccompanied youth in transition is informed of the educational and related opportunities available to them and are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of the child/youth
    5. Public notice of the educational rights of children and youth in transition is disseminated where such children and youths receive services such as the schools, family shelters and other community service organizations
    6. Enrollment disputes are mediated in accordance with legal requirements
    7. The parent/guardian of a child and any unaccompanied youth in transition is fully informed of transportation services that may be available to them under the law and assist them in accessing such transportation services
  4. The Director of Pupil Services shall:
    1. Serve as a resource between districts in resolving conflicts or issues related to the shared financial responsibilities for transportation.
    2. Serve as a designee for parents or others who have a complaint regarding district offers of service for students in transition.
    3. Ensure compliance with all local, state or federal reporting related to students in transition.

Procedure

When a child or unaccompanied youth in transition seeks enrollment in the District, the following procedures will apply:

School Selection

The student in transition’s parent/guardian or any unaccompanied youth in transition will be advised of their choice of schools. The child/youth in transition will be allowed to either; continue his/her education in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness and/or for the remainder of the academic year if the child/youth becomes permanently housed during that academic year or be placed in the school that non-homeless children/youths who live in the attendance area in which the child/youth is actually living are eligible to attend (school of residence). School selection decisions will be made based on the best interest of the homeless child/youth.

If the District assigns a student in transition to a school other than the school of origin or a school requested by the parent/guardian, the District will provide the child’s parent/guardian with a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal the school selection decision. An unaccompanied youth in transition will also be provided notice of his/her right to appeal the school selection decision. School selection disputes will be handled as outlined in the last section of this document under “School Selection or Enrollment Disputes.”

Enrollment/Placement

The student in transition will be immediately enrolled in the assigned school. This must be done even if the child/youth is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency or other documentation. The enrolling school or the District will immediately contact the school last attended by the child/youth to obtain relevant academic and other records. If the child/youth needs to obtain immunizations, or immunization or medical records, the enrolling school will immediately refer the parent/guardian or the unaccompanied youth in transition to the District nurse, who is expected to assist in obtaining the necessary immunization or medical records.

The student in transition will be placed in an appropriate grade level by the building principal or designee, using the same procedures that are used for placing students not in transition attending that school. Educational programming and services will be provided for the child/youth consistent with legal requirements and established District policies and procedures.

Once enrolled, children and youth in transition will have all the rights and privileges of non-homeless children attending school in the District and will be subject to the same school rules and regulations.

Residency

A child or youth in transition is a resident if the child is personally present somewhere within the district with a purpose to remain but not necessarily to remain permanently.

The child or youth shall be considered a resident when living with a parent, guardian, or person in place of parents not solely for school purposes or for participation in extra-curricular activities.

Students in transition who do not live with their parents or guardians may enroll themselves in school.

The address listed on the enrollment forms becomes proof of residency.

Comparable Services

Each child or unaccompanied youth in transition shall be provided services comparable to services offered to other students in the school enrolled, such as

  1. Preschool programs
  2. Transportation Services
  3. Educational services for which the child or youth meets eligibility criteria such as ESL or special education programs
  4. Programs for “At Risk” students
  5. Programs for gifted and talented students
  6. School nutrition programs
  7. Title 1 services
  8. After School programs

Transportation

At the request of the parent or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the local agency liaison or designee, transportation will be provided for children in transition to the school of origin for the duration of homelessness. The District has the right to determine the mode of transportation to the school of origin or school district of residence.

Where a student in transition is attending a school pursuant to a legal entitlement applicable to students in transition (i.e. the school of origin or the attendance-area school applicable to a temporary residence), and where the family finds permanent housing on or after May 1 of any school year, the District will provide or fund transportation for the remainder of the school term to/from the school the student was attending at the point they found permanent housing.

In the case where the school of origin and current residence is different LEA’s, the two school districts will agree on a method of transportation (i.e. school bus, gas reimbursement, bus tickets) and share cost.

School Selection or Enrollment Disputes

If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment in a school:

  1. The child in transition’s parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth in transition shall be referred to the District’s liaison for children and youth in transition, who will carry out the dispute resolution process and provide a written response including the right to appeal to the District Administrator.
  2. The child in transition’s parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth in transition shall be referred to the District Administrator, who will carry out the dispute resolution process and provide a written response including the right to appeal to the School Board.
  3. The child in transition’s parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth in transition shall be referred to the School Board, who will carry out the dispute resolution process and provide a written response including the right to appeal to the Department of Public Instruction.
  4. If a dispute continues after exhausting all local processes, the child in transition’s parent/guardian or unaccompanied youth in transition shall be referred to the Department of Public Instruction who will carry out their dispute resolution process as expeditiously as possible after receiving notice of the dispute.
  5. The child or youth in transition will be immediately enrolled in the appropriate district school, based upon the procedures above, pending resolution of the dispute.

LEGAL REF.:
PI 9.03(1), Wisconsin Administrative Code
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

CROSS REF.:
112, Nondiscrimination
151.1, Policy Review and Evaluation
411 Equal Educational Opportunities

Adopted: November 25, 2012