I’m homeless and living in a shelter or transitional housing. What are my rights with regard to my education?

Homeless students have a right to enroll in and attend school, and just like any other student to participate and succeed.  The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act defines homeless children/youth as those who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”  This assessment is determined on a case-by-case basis. Examples include, sharing the housing of other persons, living in a hotel, motel, trailer park, living in an emergency or transitional shelter, and awaiting foster care placement.  If a child satisfies any of those three conditions, that child is eligible for assistance.

Homeless children are excused from the strict enrollment requirements, such as updated immunization and school records from prior schools.  Any school is required to enroll a student immediately, and then help that student provide all necessary materials.

The National Center for Homeless Education describes homeless education issues in more detail.  Please consult http://www.serve.org/nche/index.php.

The state coordinator for homeless education in California is Leanne M. Wheeler.  Her email address is lwheeler@cde.ca.gov.