Education for Homeless Policy & Procedures
DEFINITION OF HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH:
Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) adopts the federal definition of homeless children and youth as defined in The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act. Under The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act, homeless children and youth are defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
Homeless Children and Youth:
- Are temporarily sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
- Are living in motels, hotels, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations
- Are living in emergency shelters
- Are abandoned in hospitals
- Have a nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- Are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
- Are runaway children or children who are abandoned
Migratory children and unaccompanied youth (youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) may be considered homeless if they meet the above definitions. Homeless status is determined in cooperation with the parents. In the case of unaccompanied youth, homeless status is determined in cooperation with the unaccompanied youth and the local educational agency/district liaison.
GEORGIA CYBER ACADEMY’S RESPONSIBILITIES:
Barbara Stevens, GCA’s District Homeless Liaison, 404.334.4790, ext. 971 or firstname.lastname@example.org ). This position focuses on supporting students and families with any social service concerns.
- Ensure that children and youth in homeless situations are identified
- Ensure that homeless students enroll in and have full and equal opportunities to succeed in school
- Inform parents, guardians, or youth of education and parent involvement opportunities
- Post public notices of education rights
- Provide children, youth, and families with referrals to health care, dental, mental health, substance abuse, housing and other services.
- Inform parents, guardians, or youth of transportation services
STUDENTS IDENTIFIED AS HOMELESS ARE ENTITLED TO:
- Enroll in school immediately with or without typical documentation such as medical records, proof of residency, or school records
- Continue in the school of origin or enroll in a public school in the district where they are temporarily housed
- When feasible, transportation to their school of origin or the school where they are to be enrolled
- Participate in all activities that the school sponsors
- Title I services
- Services without fear of discrimination
- Receive all other educational and supplemental services that all students are provided
Annual Review Date: July 17, 2018
It is the policy of the board to ensure that homeless children and youth are provided with equal access to its educational programs, have an opportunity to meet the same challenging state of Georgia academic standards, are not segregated on the basis of their status as homeless, and are not discriminated against on the basis of their homelessness.
English language learners (ELL) and homeless students are identified in schoolwide screening under IDEA Child Find Query (CFQ) during enrollment, for the purpose of serving these students effectively and efficiently. GCA will immediately enroll the student, even if the child or youth lacks records normally required for enrollment. Records will immediately be requested from the previous school. In addition, the following documents are requested for the parent/Learning Coach to complete:
- Student Residency Form
- Affidavit for Missing Enrollment Documentation
- Caregiver Authorization Form
Once students are identified, the School-Based Enrollment Coordinator alerts the Homeless Liaison immediately.
Each homeless child or youth shall be provided services comparable to services offered to other students in school such as:
- Transportation services
- Educational services for which the child or youth meets eligibility criteria such as English as a second language (ESL) or special education programs
- Programs for “at risk” students
- Programs for gifted and talented students
- School nutrition programs
- Title I services
- Before and After school programs
EXAMPLES OF COMPARABLE SERVICES IN A VIRTUAL SCHOOL
- Bus passes to/from school outings
- Laptop computer
- Wireless card
- Computer paper, ink
- Increased flexibility in teacher availability for support
- Phone cards to contact teacher and administration
- Prepaid postage for any mailings necessary for the school
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL SCHOOL STAFF
All administrators, teachers, and employees of the school will be provided professional development on the identification, services, and sensitivity necessary when dealing with homeless children and youth. All identified or suspected homeless children and youths will be referred to the school’s Homeless Liaison.
Professional development was provided on February 27, 2017, and continued throughout the summer.
PROCESS FOR MONITORING
Per the handbook, families are instructed to contact their Family Support Liaison (or the Homeless Liaison directly) if they are homeless. In addition, information concerning homeless education is sent out in the GCA Monthly Parent Newsletter. When necessary, teachers refer students to the Homeless Liaison through GCA’s internal data system (Infinite Campus). The Homeless Liaison/School Social Worker reviews the homeless students list and addresses any homeless student needs. The School Social Worker works very closely with teachers to ensure accommodations are made to address the student’s homeless status (extra support, extended deadlines, transportation to testing, etc.). Also, as needed, the Homeless Liaison will meet with the Business Manager and the Title I director to follow up on any additional services that may be requested. All GCA parents are notified of the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Services in the parent handbook, which is sent out at the beginning of the school year. In addition, this information is placed in the Monthly Parent Newsletter and on the GCA website for families.
DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS
Written notice will be provided to homeless youth and their families when enrollment and continuation of a homeless child or youth in the school of origin is not feasible. If a dispute arises due to the determination, the following process must be used:
Level I Appeal – Homeless Liaison:
- The parent or unaccompanied youth may file a request for dispute resolution with the district Homeless Liaison by submitting a request for appeal in writing via email or completing the Dispute Resolution Form.
- Within one business day, the Homeless Liaison will consider all documentation and make a determination regarding the appeal. The Homeless Liaison will notify the parent or guardian of the determination in writing.
Level II Appeal – Head of School or designee:
- The parent or unaccompanied youth may appeal the Level I decision to the Head of School, or the Head of School’s designee. (The designee shall be someone other than the district’s Homeless Liaison.) Request for Level II appeal must be submitted in writing or by completing the Dispute Resolution Form.
- The Head of School or designee will provide a decision regarding the Level II appeal in writing to the parent or unaccompanied youth with supporting evidence and reasons within three (3) business days of the Head of School or designee’s receipt of the appeal.
- A copy of the Dispute Resolution Form, along with the written decision made at Level II, is to be shared with the district’s Homeless Liaison.
- If the parent or unaccompanied youth disagrees with the decision made at Level II, the parent or unaccompanied youth shall notify the district’s Homeless Liaison of their intent to proceed to Level III within two (2) business days of the Head of School or designee’s written decision.
Level III Appeal – Georgia Department of Education:
- The District Superintendent or designee should forward all written documentation and related paperwork to the GaDOE Department of Legal Services for review within five (5) business days of being informed that the parent or unaccompanied youth would like to appeal the Level II decision.
- A complaint to GaDOE must be made in one of two ways:
- In writing and signed by the complainant
- Or Submitted electronically through the Department’s online complaint process at:
- Georgia Department of Education Contact:
- Erica Glenn, Grants Program Manager
Phone: 404.651.7555, Fax: 404.344.4526
- Erica Glenn, Grants Program Manager