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McKinney-Vento Compliance and Other Lessons from Litigation Lisa Coleman, Domestic Violence/Education Staff Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness.

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Presentation on theme: "McKinney-Vento Compliance and Other Lessons from Litigation Lisa Coleman, Domestic Violence/Education Staff Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness."— Presentation transcript:

1 McKinney-Vento Compliance and Other Lessons from Litigation Lisa Coleman, Domestic Violence/Education Staff Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty Maura McInerney, Senior Staff Attorney, Education Law Center, PA Kate Frenzinger, Associate, DLA Piper LLP U.S.

2 ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US) Road Map Background on Student HomelessnessBackground on Student Homelessness Overview of the McKinney-Vento ActOverview of the McKinney-Vento Act Lessons Learned from LitigationLessons Learned from Litigation Resources to Help YOU Stay on the Right Side of the LawResources to Help YOU Stay on the Right Side of the Law

3 Background on Student Homelessness Over 1 million homeless students identifiedOver 1 million homeless students identified Mobility hurts health and educationMobility hurts health and education Barriers to enrollment and retention:Barriers to enrollment and retention: Lack of documentationLack of documentation Lack of access to programsLack of access to programs Lack of transportationLack of transportation Lack of school supplies, clothing, etc.Lack of school supplies, clothing, etc. Poor health, fatigue, hungerPoor health, fatigue, hunger Prejudice and misunderstandingPrejudice and misunderstanding ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

4 Overview of McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act Broad definition of “homeless”Broad definition of “homeless” Dedicated personnelDedicated personnel Focus on school stabilityFocus on school stability Right to immediate enrollmentRight to immediate enrollment Access to Title I, IDEA, other servicesAccess to Title I, IDEA, other services Dispute resolutionDispute resolution ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

5 Eligibility—Who is Covered? Children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence—Children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence— Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reasonSharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodationsLiving in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations Living in emergency or transitional sheltersLiving in emergency or transitional shelters Abandoned in hospitalsAbandoned in hospitals Awaiting foster care placementAwaiting foster care placement ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

6 Local Homeless Education Liaisons Every “local education agency” (school district, charter, etc.) MUST designate a homeless liaisonEvery “local education agency” (school district, charter, etc.) MUST designate a homeless liaison Responsibilities include:Responsibilities include: Identify homeless studentsIdentify homeless students Share and ensure rightsShare and ensure rights Coordinate with other agenciesCoordinate with other agencies Resolve disputesResolve disputes ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

7 School Stability— Key Provisions Homeless students have the right to:Homeless students have the right to: STAY at school of origin** ORSTAY at school of origin** OR IMMEDIATELY ENROLL in a new schoolIMMEDIATELY ENROLL in a new school Best interest—keep homeless students in their schools of origin, to the extent feasible, unless this is against the parents’ or guardians’ wishesBest interest—keep homeless students in their schools of origin, to the extent feasible, unless this is against the parents’ or guardians’ wishes ** School where child is currently enrolled or school child attended BEFORE becoming homeless. ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

8 Feasibility— USDE Sample Criteria Continuity of instructionContinuity of instruction Age of the child or youthAge of the child or youth Safety of the child or youthSafety of the child or youth Length of stay at the shelterLength of stay at the shelter Likely area where family will find permanent housingLikely area where family will find permanent housing Student’s need for special instructional programsStudent’s need for special instructional programs Impact of commute on educationImpact of commute on education School placement of siblingsSchool placement of siblings Time remaining in the school yearTime remaining in the school year Child-centric, case-by-case determinationChild-centric, case-by-case determination ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

9 Resolution of Disputes— Key Provisions Students must be immediately enrolled while dispute is being resolvedStudents must be immediately enrolled while dispute is being resolved Written explanation of the school’s decision, including the right to appeal Written explanation of the school’s decision, including the right to appeal Liaison must assist and carry out resolution process as expeditiously as possibleLiaison must assist and carry out resolution process as expeditiously as possible ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

10 Common Subjects of Litigation Refusal to enrollRefusal to enroll Failure to grant automatic enrollment while dispute is being resolvedFailure to grant automatic enrollment while dispute is being resolved Failure to provide transportationFailure to provide transportation Failure to recognize and accommodate unaccompanied youthFailure to recognize and accommodate unaccompanied youth Failure to accept appeals of enrollment decisions (“You’re not homeless, so you’re not entitled to appeal”)Failure to accept appeals of enrollment decisions (“You’re not homeless, so you’re not entitled to appeal”) ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

11 Lampkin v. District of Columbia Complaint alleged that DC Public Schools failed to:Complaint alleged that DC Public Schools failed to: consider the best interests in making school placements;consider the best interests in making school placements; ensure transportation to schools;ensure transportation to schools; coordinate social services and public education; andcoordinate social services and public education; and ensure comparable services and school meals for studentsensure comparable services and school meals for students D.C. Circuit Court held that the McKinney-Vento created “enforceable rights” (i.e. individual families could bring legal actions against state agents for violating the Act)D.C. Circuit Court held that the McKinney-Vento created “enforceable rights” (i.e. individual families could bring legal actions against state agents for violating the Act) DCPS ordered to identify children experiencing homelessness and refer them for all services required by the law, including transportation, within 72 hours of a family’s application for emergency shelter and provide tokens to all children who had to travel more than 1.5 miles to school.DCPS ordered to identify children experiencing homelessness and refer them for all services required by the law, including transportation, within 72 hours of a family’s application for emergency shelter and provide tokens to all children who had to travel more than 1.5 miles to school. Awarded $185,000 in attorney fees and costsAwarded $185,000 in attorney fees and costs ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

12 Collier v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County and Bullock v. Board of Education of Montgomery County Suburban school districts bordering on Washington, DC. Collier concerned transportation, identification, school selection, dispute resolution, and inter-agency matters.Collier concerned transportation, identification, school selection, dispute resolution, and inter-agency matters. Bullock addressed rights of students in transitional housing; “time limits” on homelessness & segregation.Bullock addressed rights of students in transitional housing; “time limits” on homelessness & segregation. School districts agreed to settlements mandating broad reform measures from accommodating children awaiting foster placement, to publicizing the rights of homeless children, training school personnel to implement new forms and guidelines to identify and serve homeless children & provide timely transportation.School districts agreed to settlements mandating broad reform measures from accommodating children awaiting foster placement, to publicizing the rights of homeless children, training school personnel to implement new forms and guidelines to identify and serve homeless children & provide timely transportation. Attorneys fees: ranged from $195,000 to $300,000.Attorneys fees: ranged from $195,000 to $300,000. ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

13 National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty v. New York State Case alleged systemic noncompliance by the state education agency, state social services agency, 15 local educational agencies, and county social services with state and federal laws relating to the education of homeless children and youth.Case alleged systemic noncompliance by the state education agency, state social services agency, 15 local educational agencies, and county social services with state and federal laws relating to the education of homeless children and youth. School districts settled their portion of the case early in the proceedings; state and county social services moved to dismiss the case on ground that McKinney-Vento was not enforceable by parents; argument rejected by District Court.School districts settled their portion of the case early in the proceedings; state and county social services moved to dismiss the case on ground that McKinney-Vento was not enforceable by parents; argument rejected by District Court. Ultimately, all parties settled and agreed to comply with applicable state and federal laws relating to homeless students.Ultimately, all parties settled and agreed to comply with applicable state and federal laws relating to homeless students. ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

14 Peterson v. Baltimore Cty Class action filed by four families in Baltimore CountyClass action filed by four families in Baltimore County At the time of filing two children were identified as homeless and two children were not – all had been in and out of shelters and transitional housingAt the time of filing two children were identified as homeless and two children were not – all had been in and out of shelters and transitional housing Court certified the classCourt certified the class Lawsuit emphasizedLawsuit emphasized Failure of school district to identify studentsFailure of school district to identify students Harm to students caused by interruption in schoolingHarm to students caused by interruption in schooling Sought DAMAGES as well as injunctive relief for failure to comply with McKinney Vento Act mandatesSought DAMAGES as well as injunctive relief for failure to comply with McKinney Vento Act mandates Case settled – resulting in Consent DecreeCase settled – resulting in Consent Decree ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

15 Kaleuati v. Tonda Class action lawsuit against State of Hawaii in District Court challenging McKinney-Vento Act violations & seeking to ensure that homeless children have full, meaningful access to public education.Class action lawsuit against State of Hawaii in District Court challenging McKinney-Vento Act violations & seeking to ensure that homeless children have full, meaningful access to public education. Settlement agreement mandated: hiring, training & monitoring of district liaisons; improving identification practices and outreach to shelters and other providers; creating and distributing informational materials; developing a system for monitoring and recordkeeping; revising existing enrollment and release forms; reviewing and revising relevant administrative rules to remove barriers to attendance; consulting with parents and guardians; establishing a school bus route to accommodate residents of homeless shelters and beach parks; and improving dispute resolution procedures.Settlement agreement mandated: hiring, training & monitoring of district liaisons; improving identification practices and outreach to shelters and other providers; creating and distributing informational materials; developing a system for monitoring and recordkeeping; revising existing enrollment and release forms; reviewing and revising relevant administrative rules to remove barriers to attendance; consulting with parents and guardians; establishing a school bus route to accommodate residents of homeless shelters and beach parks; and improving dispute resolution procedures. DOE was responsible for attorneys’ fees and costs: $185,000.DOE was responsible for attorneys’ fees and costs: $185,000. ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

16 A.E. v. Carlynton & PDE Children slept in multiple school districts, rotating weekly so that children slept in 6 different school districts; Children denied enrollment in ALL districts on ground that they did not “live” in any.. Case settled, resulting in significant PA guidance re highly mobile students: Children legally entitled to attend school where they have a “substantial connection” (e.g., daily living activities, day shelter, stay on recurring basis.) ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

17 L.R. v. Steelton-Highspire Child resided with his grandmother and became homeless due to fire in Jan Child was permitted to attend school until June but was refused enrollment the following school year. Court granted emergency preliminary motion: ordered school of origin to educate child immediate enrollment & pendency legally required under the Act; dispute resolution process must be followed. homelessness has no time limit ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

18 C.H. v. State of New York Eastern District of New York Two children (one severely autistic) and single father were forced out of their home by economic circumstances; the family “doubled-up” with a family member residing in a different school district. The school district attempted to exclude the children, alleging that the family was not homeless. The family appealed to the NYSED; the Department of Education denied the family’s request for a stay pending the appeal. On the eve of the children’s expulsion, the family sought a TRO and preliminary injunction from the EDNY. The Court granted a TRO – the matter is pending. ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

19 Project LEARN In 2011, DLA Piper and the Law Center partnered to launch Project LEARN (Lawyers Education Access Resource Network). More than 50 Project LEARN attorneys and paralegals from 20 DLA Piper offices across the country trained to provide resources, information, and brief legal services to school personnel, homeless students and parents, and other advocates. Project LEARN volunteers also are accepting litigating cases where necessary to protect homeless students’ rights. Contact for assistance. ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

20 Resources National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth - National Center on Homeless Education - National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty - National Network for Youth- Horizons for Homeless Children - Education Law Center - ELC-PA NLCHP DLA Piper LLP (US)

21 Contact Information Kate Frenzinger, Senior Associate DLA Piper LLP (US) 2525 E. Camelback Rd. Suite 1000 Phoenix, AZ Maura McInerney, Senior Staff Attorney, Education Law Center 1315 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA Ext Lisa Coleman, Staff Attorney Eric Tars, Director of Human Rights & Children’s Rights Programs, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty 1411 K Street, NW, Suite 1400 Washington, DC


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