Homeless Students Rights



  1. What is the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act?

    The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act protects the educational rights of students who are homeless. Those protections include the right to:
    • Continue attending the school of origin (the school in which the child was last enrolled or the school the child attended when permanently housed) or to enroll in the zoned school in the area where the child temporarily resides;
    • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin;
    • Enroll immediately despite lack of proper documentation (immunizations, transcripts, proof of address, etc.);
    • Receive free school meals;
    • Not to be separated from the regular school program because of homelessness.

  2. Who is covered by McKinney-Vento?

    McKinney-Vento defines a homeless child or youth as someone who does not have a regular, permanent and sufficient nighttime residence. This includes children who are living in shelters, hotels, camp grounds, cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, or other similar settings. It also includes children who are doubled-up in housing with friends or relatives and children who are unaccompanied homeless youth (youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian).

  3. Who decides whether to continue attending the school of origin or the school of current location?

    If the student is in the care of his/her parent, the parent will decide whether the student will remain in the school of origin or the school of current location. If the student is an unaccompanied youth, he/she can choose whether to continue attending the school of origin or the school of current location. Unaccompanied homeless youth have the same rights as homeless students who reside with a parent or guardian.

  4. What if my child has special needs?

    Homeless children with disabilities have the same rights as other students. If they wish to continue attending their school of origin, they may do so, and they are entitled to transportation.

    If a disabled student is recommended for special class or collaborative team teaching and the current location does not provide that setting, the family may contact the Family Welcome Center for assistance. For disabled students recommended for a District 75 program, the school will be determined by the District 75 placement office.

  5. What about Pre-Kindergarten?
    Children must be placed in pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) classes if these services are available to permanently housed children in the district and if there is space, in accordance with the same procedures for permanently housed children. In New York City children become eligible for universal Pre-K in September of the calendar year when they turn four. In some districts students may be eligible for pre-kindergarten (3K) in September of the calendar year when they turn three. Pre-K students in temporary housing are entitled to transportation by MetroCard only.

  6. Where can I get help?

    Each borough has several Liaisons for Students in Temporary Housing who are available to help answer questions and fix problems. For a list of Liaisons go to the following website and click here for the Content Expert List.

  7. What if there is a disagreement about where the child should attend school?

    If there is a disagreement about where a child should be enrolled, the child must be immediately enrolled in the school in which he/she wants to enroll, until the dispute is resolved. The parent must be given a written explanation of the school’s enrollment decision. The parent has the right to appeal the decision. The Liaison for Students in Temporary Housing can assist with the appeal.

  8. How can a parent appeal a student placement?

    The parent will be referred to the Liaison, who will assist the parent with filing an appeal to the State Education Department within 30 days of the initial decision regarding school placement. The Liaison will provide the parent with a copy of the written procedure for appealing, assist the parent in completing the petition, make necessary copies of appeals papers, and transmit the appeal to the State Education Department. Transportation to the student’s selected school of enrollment will be provided until the dispute is resolved.

  9. How will my child be transported if I choose to keep him in his original school?

    All homeless students who choose to stay in their original school are eligible for free transportation. The NYC Department of Education provides different kinds of transportation depending on the student’s age:
    • Homeless preschool students and their parents are entitled to a free Metrocard from the Department of Education.
    • Homeless students in grades K-6 must be provided with yellow bus service as long as a bus route exists. If yellow bus service is not available, homeless students and their parents are entitled to a free Metrocard from the Department of Education.
    • Homeless students in grades 7-12 are entitled to a free Metrocard from the Department of Education.
    • Parents of children in preschool-grade 6 are entitled to Metrocards to accompany their children to and from school.

  10. Where can I get more information?

    The New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS) can provide more information and help. They operate a website (www.nysteachs.org) and a toll-free hotline (1-800-388-2014).