Enrollment Rights of Students Experiencing Homelessness (SAFEH)
The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that was created to eliminate barriers that students experiencing homelessness were facing in terms of enrollment, attendance, and success in school.
Definition of Homelessness
According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a student is homeless if they live:
- In a house or apartment with more than one family due to loss of housing or economic hardship
- (aka “doubled-up” or “tripled up”)
- With friends or family because they are a runaway or an unaccompanied youth
- In substandard housing (i.e. without electricity, water or heat)
- In a shelter (family, domestic violence, youth shelter, or transitional living program)
- In a motel, hotel, SRO, or weekly rate housing
- In an abandoned building, in a car, trailer park, at a campground, or on the streets
School Selection / Student Rights (CA Education Code 48852.7)
A homeless student has the right to continue their education in the school of origin through the duration of homelessness.
If the homeless student’s status changes before the end of the academic year so that they are no longer homeless, either of the following apply:
(1) Students in high school shall be allowed to remain in the school of origin through graduation; (2) Students in grades 1-8 shall be allowed to remain in the school of origin through the duration of the academic school year.
"School of origin" means the school that the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled. If the school the student attended when permanently housed is different from the school in which the student was last enrolled, or if there is some other school that the student attended with which the student is connected and attended within the immediately preceding 15 months, the educational liaison, in consultation with, and with the agreement of, the student and the person holding the right to make educational decisions for the student, shall determine, in the best interests of the student, the school that shall be deemed the school of origin.
Complaints of noncompliance with these provisions may be filed using the Uniform Complaint Procedures (See Chapter 7 Complaint Policies and Procedures).
Schools must immediately enroll homeless students, regardless of the lack of:
- Academic Records
- Proof of Residency
- Medical Records
- Immunization Records*
*A 30 day conditional enrollment is granted if immunization records are not provided.
Students And Families Experiencing Homelessness who wish to enroll in SFUSD for the first time will enroll at the Educational Placement Center (EPC) located at 555 Franklin Street, Room 100 ((415) 241-6085 or (415) 241-6136). Families who are already enrolled in SFUSD and subsequently meet the eligibility requirements listed above should contact Pupil Services at: (415) 241-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The K-8 school-based social worker (in K-8’s) and HS Wellness Coordinator is the school’s “point person” for students and families experiencing homelessness. SAFEH families can seek out these professionals if they have specific needs or resources. SAFEH families can contact the Families and Youth in Transition Program or call the McKinney-Vento Liaison for SFUSD at (415) 750-4500 ext. 1408.
Dispute Resolution Process
Local educational agencies (LEAs) must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool program, as other children and youths. Following are the components for resolving disputes:
If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the child/youth must be immediately enrolled in the school in which they are seeking enrollment, pending resolution of the dispute. (Public Law 107-110, Section 722(g)(3)(E)(iv)) Enrollment is defined as “attending classes and participating fully in school activities.”
The school must refer the student, parent, or guardian to the District Liaison to carry out the dispute resolution process as expeditiously as possible. The District Liaison must ensure that the dispute resolution process is also followed for unaccompanied youths.
A written explanation of the school’s decision regarding school selection or enrollment must be provided if a parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth disputes such a school selection or enrollment decision, including the right to appeal. (Public Law 107-110, Section 722(g)(3)(E)(ii)) The written explanation shall be complete, as brief as possible, simply stated, and provided in a language that the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth can understand.
If the dispute remains unresolved at the district level or is appealed, then the District Liaison shall forward all written documentation and related paperwork to the homeless liaison at the county office of education (COE). The COE liaison is the Executive Director of Student, Family, andCommunity Support Division. The Executive Director will review these materials and determine the school selection or enrollment decision within five (5) working days of receipt of the materials. The Executive Director will notify the District Liaison and parent of the decision.
If the dispute remains unresolved, the Executive Director of Student, Family and Community Support Division shall forward all written documentation and related paperwork to the State Homeless Coordinator. Upon the review of the LEA, COE, and parent information, the California Department of Education will notify the parent of the final school selection or enrollment decision within ten (10) working days of receipt of materials. You may reach the State Homeless Coordinator, Leanne Wheeler, by phone at (916) 319-0383 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Grades and Partial Credits
The District must accept credit for full or partial coursework satisfactorily completed by the homeless student and earned while attending a public school, juvenile court school, or non-public, non-sectarian school. Homeless students will not be required to retake a course if the student has satisfactorily completed the entire course in a public school, a juvenile court school, or a nonpublic, nonsectarian school or agency; nor will the student be prohibited from retaking or taking a course to meet the eligibility requirements for admission to the California State University or the University of California. (CA Education Code 51225.2)
If a manifestation determination is held for a homeless student for an offense that does not require a mandatory expulsion referral, the Homeless Liaison shall be invited to participate in the meeting. The invitation may be made by mail, email or telephone call. This Notice also may be provided to the Homeless Liaison for offenses that require mandatory expulsion referral. (CA Education Code 48915.5(e))
Notice of Expulsion
If a homeless student is being referred for expulsion for an offense that does not require mandatory expulsion referral, the District must inform the Homeless Liaison of the hearing 10 calendar days prior to the hearing date. The notice may be provided by mail, email or telephone call. This Notice also may be provided to the Homeless Liaison for offenses that require mandatory expulsion referral.(CA Education Code 48918.1(b))
Interscholastic Sports or Extracurricular Activities
A homeless child or youth shall be immediately deemed to meet all residency requirements for participation in interscholastic sports or other extracurricular activities.