These checklists are designed to facilitate open conversations about the school that is in a student’s best interest to attend, emphasizing the importance of parents and youth being fully informed and carefully considering the benefits of school stability prior to changing schools.

An Interview Checklist for Supporting School Selection: Parents
An Interview Checklist for Supporting School Selection: Unaccompanied Youth

An Interview Checklist for Supporting School Selection: Parents

Adapted with permission from NCHE’s Guiding the Discussion on School Selection.

The McKinney-Vento Act provides a child or youth identified as homeless the right to attend either the school of origin or the local school, according to the child or youth’s best interest. The school of origin is the school that the child or youth attended when permanently housed or the school in which the child was last enrolled, including a preschool. The local school is any public school that housed students who live in the attendance area in which the child or youth is actually living are eligible to attend. Local educational agencies (LEAs) must make best interest determinations about school selection that:

  • presume that staying in the school of origin is in the best interest of the child or youth;
  • consider specific student-centered factors;
  • prioritize the wishes of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth; and
  • include a written explanation and notice of the right to appeal if the LEA determines that remaining in the school of origin is not in the best interest of the child or youth.

School district homeless liaisons and other school personnel play a critical role in helping parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness evaluate best interest. This brief provides a guide for school selection conversations with parents and guardians. Involving parents and guardians fully in the school selection process can reduce the likelihood of disputes or unnecessary school changes and respects the role of parents and guardians in their child’s education.

Step One: Explain the rights and significance of school selection

Thank the parents/guardians for speaking with you and let them know that while it is the LEA’s responsibility to determine the best school placement for their child, the LEA must prioritize school stability and the parents’/guardians’ wishes, and you are here to support them in this process. As appropriate, acknowledge the challenges of the family’s living circumstances and the importance of making sure that their child is in a school setting that supports his or her academic success and overall well-being during this difficult time.

Step Two: Help the parents/guardians consider their options

Explain to the parents/guardians that you can help them consider whether the school of origin or local school would best meet their child’s current needs by asking them a few important questions. Remind the parents/guardians that they may change their wishes about school placement later if their housing circumstances or priorities change or if their child’s needs change.

Checklist-parents

Review the responses and their significance in determining the school placement. If the LEA determines that the appropriate school is DIFFERENT from that selected by the parents/guardians, explain to the parents/guardians that the LEA will provide them with a written explanation of the LEA’s determination—including a statement regarding their right to appeal.

Step Three: Ensure continuity of instruction in the current school or a smooth transition to the new school

Staying in the school of origin: Explain to the parents/guardians that, if remaining in the school of origin is in the best interest of their child, transportation will be provided to the student upon their request. With sensitivity, encourage the parents to inform the school promptly of any changes in residence and to communicate openly about their circumstances and unique needs so that teachers and staff can do their best to support the student’s academic success and overall well-being.

Transferring to a new school: If enrolling in the local school is the best option for their child, explain to the parents/guardians that the homeless liaison in the district of origin will contact the liaison in the district in which their child is now living (if these are two different districts) to facilitate immediate enrollment. Explain that the local school must remove any barriers to enrollment that are created by homelessness, including transportation barriers.

Work with parents/guardians to make the transition at a time when disruption can be minimized, such as at the end of a grading period or over a holiday break. With sensitivity, encourage the parents/guardians to communicate openly with the new school about their circumstances and unique needs so that teachers and staff can do their best to support the student’s academic success and overall well-being.

An Interview Checklist for Supporting School Selection: Unaccompanied Youth

Adapted with permission from NCHE’s Guiding the Discussion on School Selection.

The McKinney-Vento Act provides a student identified as homeless the right to attend either the school of origin or the local school, according to the student’s best interest. The school of origin is the school the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled. The local school is any public school that housed students who live in the attendance area in which the student is actually living are eligible to attend. Local educational agencies (LEAs) must make best interest determinations about school selection that:

  • presume that staying in the school of origin is in the best interest of the student;
  • consider specific student-centered factors;
  • prioritize the wishes of the unaccompanied youth; and
  • include a written explanation and notice of the right to appeal if the LEA determines that remaining in the school of origin is not in the youth’s best interest.

School district homeless liaisons and other school personnel play a critical role in helping unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness evaluate their best interest. This brief provides a guide for school selection conversations with unaccompanied youth. The LEA must give priority to the unaccompanied youth’s wishes. In addition to being a legal requirement, this can reduce the likelihood of disputes or unnecessary school changes and respects the role of young people in their education.

Step One: Explain the rights and significance of school selection

Thank the youth for speaking with you and let him/her know that while it is the LEA’s responsibility to determine the best school placement for the youth, the LEA must prioritize both school stability and the youth’s wishes, and you are here to support him/her in this process. As appropriate, acknowledge the challenges of the youth’s living circumstances and the importance of making sure that he/she is in a school setting that supports his/her academic success and overall well-being during this difficult time.

Step Two: Help the parents/guardians consider their options

Explain to the youth that you can help him/her consider whether the school of origin or local school would best meet his/her current needs by asking a few important questions. Remind the youth that he/she may change his/her wishes about school placement later if housing circumstances, priorities, or needs change.

Checklist-unaccompaniedyouth

Review the responses and their significance in determining the school placement. If the LEA determines that the appropriate school is DIFFERENT from that selected by the youth, explain to the youth that the LEA will provide him/her with a written explanation of the LEA’s determination, including a statement regarding his/her right to appeal.  Explain the appeals process to the youth and assist the youth to access that process immediately.

Step Three: Ensure continuity of instruction in the current school or a smooth transition to the new school

Staying in the school of origin: Explain to the youth that, if remaining in the school of origin is in the youth’s best interest, transportation will be provided to the student. With sensitivity, encourage the youth to inform the school promptly of any problems with transportation or changes in residence, and to let you know what he/she needs to be able to attend and succeed in school. Do not tell the student’s teachers about his/her homelessness without explicit permission.

Transferring to a new school: If enrolling in the local school is the best option for the youth, explain to the youth that the homeless liaison in the district of origin will contact the liaison in the district in which the youth is now living (if these are two different districts) to facilitate immediate enrollment. Explain that the local school must remove any barriers to enrollment and full participation that are created by homelessness, including transportation barriers.

Work with the youth to make the transition at a time when disruption can be minimized, such as at the end of a grading period or over a holiday break. With sensitivity, encourage the youth to let the liaison in the new district know what he/she needs to be able to attend and succeed in school.

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