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McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance

Homeless Education Advisory 2003 - 7: McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Dispute Resolution Process

This advisory is intended to provide school officials with guidance as they implement the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act requirement that State and local school districts develop "procedures for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding the educational placement of homeless children and youths."

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) adopts the following principles as the basis of its McKinney -Vento Dispute Resolution Process:

  1. A student must be allowed to attend the school whose district is challenging the student's right to attend until the Commissioner of Education or the Commissioner's designee makes a final decision regarding the dispute. The challenging school district must continue to provide transportation and other school services to the student until the dispute is resolved.
  2. The dispute resolution process begins at the time a school/district challenges the right of either a parent or guardian to enroll a child or to continue a child's enrollment in school, or in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the youth's right to enroll or to continue enrollment in school.
  3. When a school or school district challenges the enrollment of the child or unaccompanied youth, the school or school district must:
    1. Provide notice of the challenge to the district Homeless Education Liaison (Liaison) and the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth, through the Liaison, on the day of the challenge using a form prescribed by the DESE (see Homeless Education Advisory 2003 - 7A: School District Notification of Enrollment Decision Download PDF Document  Download Word Document).
    2. Provide notice of the right to appeal the challenge to the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth, through the Liaison. This notice must include a form to be completed by the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth should he or she decide to appeal the school district's enrollment decision. (See Homeless Education Advisory 2003 - 7B: Appeal of School District's Enrollment Decision Download PDF Document  Download Word Document).
    3. Notify DESE of the challenge on the day of the challenge and provide DESE with copies of all notices given to the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth.

  4. The Liaison will provide the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth with written notice in clear, easy-to-understand language detailing the dispute resolution process. The notice must inform the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth of the option to obtain independent information and must list several Massachusetts Advocates for the Education of Homeless Children and Youths (MAEHCY) contacts, their addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.
  5. A school district will have two working days to review its initial decision and make a final decision as to the position taken, i.e. whether it will continue to challenge the right of the student to be enrolled. During this time, DESE may provide technical assistance to the school district regarding its decision, by notifying the school district as to the requirements of McKinney-Vento and other applicable state and federal laws.
  6. The final decision of the school district must be made in writing and must be made by the school district superintendent. The decision must state all factual information upon which it is based and the legal basis in support thereof.
  7. If the final decision by the school district is adverse to the position of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth, a copy of this written decision must be provided to ESE, the Liaison and through him/her to the parent or guardian on the same day it is made (no later than the end of the two working days from the initial determination).
  8. The Commissioner shall have two working days following receipt of the appeal by the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth to issue a decision. The decision of the Commissioner shall be final.

In making determinations regarding enrollment and the subsequent provision of transportation if necessary, the Commissioner will be guided by the following excerpts from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) Non Regulatory Guidance:

  • "Best interest of the child" shall be determined utilizing the guidance provided in G-2: "In determining a child or youth's best interest, an LEA must, to the extent feasible, keep a homeless child or youth in the "school of origin" unless doing so is contrary to the wishes of the child or youth's parent or guardian, or unaccompanied youth."
  • "Feasibility" shall be determined utilizing the guidance provided in G-4: "As stated above, to the extent feasible, a district must educate a homeless child or youth in his or her school of origin, unless doing so is contrary to the wishes of the parent or guardian (unaccompanied youth). The placement determination should be a student-centered, individualized determination.


Last Updated: August 26, 2003
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