Under the federal McKinney-Vento Act and Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act homeless children have the following rights:
1. Immediate Enrollment — The right to be enrolled immediately in school, without medical or academic records, regardless of district policy.
2. Choice of Schools — The homeless child has three choices:
School of Origin – The school the child last attended
School of Origin – The school the child attended when he/she became homeless
The school closest to the shelter or other temporary housing
3. Transportation — Homeless children are entitled to the same rights to transportation as other children in their district. Parents or guardians should make a good faith effort to provide or arrange for transportation. Otherwise, school districts are responsible for transportation costs.
4. Services – Homeless children are entitled to the same services, such as tutoring, that are available to other children in their districts.
5. Dispute Resolution — If problems arise between the school and parents or between districts, the parent shall be referred to an ombudsperson in each Regional Office of Education. In the meantime, the child must remain in school and receive transportation.
Sandoval C.U.S.D. 501 is committed to helping homeless students and their families.
Collecting information on behalf of homeless education in the Student Information System (SIS) is vitally important to both the local system and the state-wide system. It is imperative that when a student experiencing homelessness enrolls in a school district that his or her information be properly collected and recorded in SIS. By identifying a student as McKinney-Vento-eligible (or homeless) the school district officials are able to be better informed and better prepared to serve the student by recognizing that there may be some additional needs for services and resources.
Prior to last year (2009), homeless education data was collected at the end of the school year and the information collected was general and not specifically tied to individual students. While this gave the state an overall “picture” of homelessness in Illinois, it was not helpful in transferring information already gathered about a student to the student’s next school if necessary. Thus, the change to SIS allows both the schools and the students to be better served by the transfer of confidential information in a secure system. Often times, the person at the school or Local Education Agency (LEA) who enters information into SIS is not the homeless education liaison. In fact, most times, the person responsible for SIS is someone else. Therefore, it is important that the homeless education liaison and that individual develop their own protocol or system for entering and/or confirming information so that SIS is up-to-date and accurate through the ISBE Web Application Security System (IWAS) and the system in which homeless education data used to be gathered.
Each school handles this type of task differently. Some enter information daily; others enter it weekly or monthly. While it might make sense to handle some of the SIS reporting (for other programs) on a weekly or monthly basis, that method can prove problematic for homeless education reporting. Often times, homeless students are highly mobile and may move on before their information is updated at a school site. So, updating in a timely matter is important to providing the best data to the state and the best possible services to the student.
Tips to Help Homeless Students and Their Families