July Blog Post: What rights do homeless students have?
Throughout Ohio, many families have experienced homelessness and the threat of eviction during the pandemic. The federal eviction moratorium that has helped keep people housed over the past year and a half is officially ending on July 31, 2021. If you have school aged children and the ending of the moratorium affects your family, your children could have rights regarding their schooling.
The McKinney-Vento Act ensures that students experiencing homelessness or transitional living situations have access to the same education, services, and opportunities as their peers. This includes children who do not have a safe place to stay at night, who are sharing housing with others because of eviction, lost housing, or they can’t afford to live on their own. It also includes students who are living in hotels, motels, campgrounds, or shelters.
McKinney-Vento requires schools to offer a number of different services to homeless students. Schools are required to: identify homeless children and youth, immediately enroll students despite a lack of documentation even if deadlines have passed, continue the student’s education in the school of origin or allow enrollment in a public school in the area the homeless student is living, provide transportation to and from the school of origin, and provide services as well as link the student to services that support their academic success. Schools might also support a homeless student by providing a time and place for them to study after school, providing free snacks and meals, ensuring the student has necessary school supplies, or waiving fees so the student can participate in extracurricular activities.
Students can still receive services during summer break. The school is obligated to provide services under McKinney-Vento, even if school is not in session. If the eviction moratorium ends and that causes a student to be homeless, you should contact the school your child attended last year. They will be able to help support the child at least until classes begin in the fall. Once a new school year begins, the child will still be eligible for McKinney-Vento services if the child is still homeless. If a student finds non-transitional housing before the new school year begins, they will not be eligible for McKinney-Vento services for the upcoming school year.
If you have spoken to the school about your housing situation and they are not willing to accommodate your child, you may want to contact an attorney. While we may not have the staff to provide full representation, we can provide advice or try to negotiate a resolution with the school based on your child’s needs. Our services are free to income-eligible families.