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In order to learn and develop, all children need to feel safe and be safe at
school. This is especially true for children who have suffered from the
effects of domestic violence, including becoming homeless because of domestic
violence. For these children, it is critical that their homelessness
disrupt their education as little as possible. Understanding and
enforcing homeless children’s educational and school choice rights are
key factors in minimizing these disruptions. School departments have
legal responsibilities to accord these rights to homeless children. The
educational and school choice rights of homeless children are often referred
to by the law that contains these rights, the "McKinney-Vento" law.
There is much that school officials, administrators, teachers, and other staff
can do to insure that the educational and school choice rights of homeless
children are provided. They can learn to identify homeless children;
to know what to do even if the child does not have all required records and
paperwork ordinarily needed for enrollment; how to deal with providing transportation;
how to be sure that the child’s transportation is safe; how to carry
out their responsibilities to parents who do not agree with administrators' decisions.
The Massachusetts legal services' Domestic Violence and School Safety Workgroup
has produced a checklist for school personnel to assist them in carrying out
their legal responsibilities to homeless children.
You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.
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