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 Article of Interest - Topic

Education Department Issues Guidance for Homeless Students under No Child Left Behind Act
FOR RELEASE: April 8, 2003

Contact: Jo Ann Webb, (202) 401-1576
Program Office Contact: Gary Rutkin, (202) 260-4412
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The U.S. Department of Education has released preliminary guidance to help states and school districts ensure that every homeless child or youth receives the same educational opportunities, including public preschool education, as other children.

The McKinney-Vento program was reauthorized under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). It addresses the problems that homeless children face in school, such as low enrollment, poor attendance and lack of academic success.

Changes described under the guidance include:

School districts or schools cannot segregate homeless children in a separate school program within a school, based on homelessness alone.

Schools must immediately enroll homeless students even if the students are unable to produce the records normally required by non-homeless students for enrollment.

States and their school districts must ensure that homeless children are provided transportation--at the request of parents or guardians--to and from the school they attended prior to becoming homeless.

School districts must designate a local liaison for homeless children and youths.

Studies show that changing schools significantly impedes a student's academic and social growth. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires school districts to keep students in their school of origin, if at all possible, unless doing so is contrary to the wishes of the parents or guardians.

The guidelines also discuss the requirement that all school districts designate local liaisons for homeless children. The liaisons, who serve as one of the primary contacts between homeless families and school staff, district personnel, shelter workers and other service providers, keep parents informed about available resources and services to help ensure the academic success of their children.

Editor's note: The online version of this release has been revised slightly.

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