The term “homeless children and youth” as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act;
Means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and includes—
- Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters or are abandoned in hospitals
- Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
- Children and youths who are living in a cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus/train stations, or similar settings,
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described above
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act ensures the educational rights and protections of homeless children and youth so that they may enroll in school, attend regularly, and be successful. The legislation requires a local homeless education liaison in every school district to assist children and unaccompanied youth in their efforts to attend school. This act guarantees homeless children and youth the following:
- The right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment.
- The right to attend school in his/her school of origin (if this is requested by the parent and is feasible) or in the school in the attendance area where the family or youth is currently residing
- The right to receive transportation to his/her school of origin, if this is requested by the parent.
- The right to services comparable to those received by housed schoolmates, including transportation and supplemental educational services.
- The right to attend school along with children not experiencing homelessness. Segregation based on a student’s status as homeless is strictly prohibited
- The posting of homeless students’ rights in all schools and other places around the community.
While having the opportunity to enroll and succeed in school may seem like a given to many of us, the McKinney-Vento Act was enacted due to the numerous barriers homeless children faced in obtaining a free, appropriate, public education. It is the goal of the DuPage Regional Office of Education to create public awareness of the rights of homeless children and youth and to ensure compliance with the law at the state and local levels.
The Illinois State Board of Education has developed an enrollment sheet called the “Common Form” that is designed to aide school districts as they enroll homeless students. It captures information that may be beneficial in providing services to homeless students and that will need to be reported to the state on a quarterly basis.
A child is entitled to tuition-free enrollment in the school district wherein he resides. A child is presumed to be a resident of the school district wherein the persons who have legal custody of him reside. After a divorce, a child is presumed to reside with the custodial parent. A school district has a duty to charge tuition to nonresident pupils. A person who knowingly or willfully provides false information to a school district regarding the residency of a pupil for the purpose of enabling the pupil to attend any school in the district without the payment of a nonresident tuition charge may be subject to court ordered fines or payments to the school district.