Copper River School District (CRSD) has created the program Students in Transition (SIT) in order to institute and comply with the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The act includes a definition of who is considered homeless for the purposes of this subtitle of the Act and, therefore, eligible for the rights and protections it provides. The guiding phrase of the definition states that children and youth who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” are considered homeless. The definition then specifies some living arrangements that would be considered a homeless situation due to not meeting the fixed, regular, and adequate standard. Examples include children and youth who are sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; children and youth who are staying in a motel or hotel due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations; children and youth who are living in an emergency or transitional shelter; and many other situations (see panel at right for full definition). It is the intention of the CRSD to comply with all mandates of the act and be fully supportive of SIT.
- At a parent or guardian’s request, homeless students must be provided with transportation to and from their school of origin.
- For unaccompanied youth, transportation to and from the school of origin must be provided at the local liaison’s request. If the student’s temporary residence and the school of origin are in the same LEA, that LEA must provide transportation.
- If the student is living outside the school of origin’s LEA, the LEA where the student is living and the school of origin’s LEA must determine how to divide the responsibility and cost of providing transportation, or they must share the responsibility and cost equally.
- In addition to providing transportation to the school of origin, LEAs must provide students in homeless situations with transportation services comparable to those provided to other students.
- Students in homeless situations are given the opportunity to meet the same challenging state academic achievement standards all students are expected to meet.
- Students in homeless situations must have access to educational and other services they need to ensure they have an opportunity to meet the same challenging state student academic achievement standards to which all students are held.
- CRSD, to the extent feasible, will keep students in homeless situations in their school of origin (defined as the school the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled), unless it is against the parent’s or guardian’s wishes.
- Students can continue attending their school of origin the entire time they are homeless and until the end of any academic year in which they move into permanent housing.
- Students may also choose to enroll in any public school that students living in the same attendance area are eligible to attend.
- If a student is sent to a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent or guardian, the district must provide the parent or guardian with a written explanation of its decision and the right to appeal.
- The district homeless education liaison will help unaccompanied youth (youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) choose and enroll in a school, after considering the youth’s wishes, and must provide the youth with notice of his/her right to appeal an enrollment choice that goes against his/her wishes.
- CRSD will enroll students in homeless situations immediately, even if they do not have documents normally required for enrollment, such as previous school records, medical or immunization records, proof of residency, birth certificate, proof of guardianship, or other documents. The term “enroll” is defined by the McKinney-Vento Act as “attending classes and participating fully in school activities”.
- Enrolling schools must obtain school records from the previous school, and students must be enrolled in school while records are obtained.
- If a student does not have immunizations or immunization or medical records, the liaison must immediately assist in obtaining them, and the student must be enrolled in school in the interim.
- Schools must maintain records for students experiencing homelessness so that they can be transferred promptly to future schools, as needed.
- The district will not delay enrollment based on the lack of immunization and medical records requirements, residency requirements, lack of birth certificates, school records or other documentation, guardianship issues, or uniform or dress code requirements.
- CRSD has established procedures to resolve disputes regarding the educational placement of homeless students promptly.
- Whenever a dispute arises, the student must be admitted immediately to the requested school while the dispute is being resolved.
- If a student is sent to a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent or guardian, the district will provide the parent or guardian with a written explanation of its decision and the right to appeal.
- The school must refer the student, parent, or guardian to the district liaison to carry out the dispute resolution process as expeditiously as possible.
- District liaison will ensure that the same access to the dispute resolution process is provided to unaccompanied youth.
The liaison will ensure that:
- Children and youth in homeless situations are identified by school personnel and through coordination activities with other entities and agencies.
- Children and youth enroll in, and have full and equal opportunity to succeed in, the schools of the LEA.
- Families, children, and youth receive educational services for which they are eligible, including Head Start and pre-school programs administered by the district; and referrals to health, mental health, dental, and other appropriate services.
- Parents or guardians are informed of educational and related opportunities available to their children and are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children.
- Public notice of the educational rights of students in homeless situations and is disseminated where children and youth receive services under the Act (such as schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens).
- Enrollment disputes are mediated in accordance with the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act and CRSD Board Policy AR 13.12.1(a)
- Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth are informed fully of all available transportation services, including to the school of origin, and are assisted in accessing these services.
- Local liaisons will collaborate and coordinate with State Coordinators for Homeless Education and community and school personnel responsible for the provision of education and related services to children and youth in homeless situations.
Homelessness alone is not sufficient reason to separate students from their mainstream school environment.
- CRSD is prohibited from segregating homeless students in separate schools, separate programs within schools, or separate settings within schools except as is necessary for short periods of time for health and safety emergencies or to provide temporary, special, and supplementary services.
The agencies below offer additional support to homeless families and children in transition.
- Alaska Department of Education, Homeless Education
- Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
- Alaska Legal Services
- Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center
- AWAIC (Abused Women's Aid in Crisis)
- Catholic Social Services, Alaska
- Municipality of Anchorage, Health Department
- Municipality of Anchorage, Emergency Outreach
- NeighborWorks Anchorage
- Salvation Army, McKinnell House