To the extent practical and as required by law, the Colquitt County School system will work with homeless students/unaccompanied youth and their families to provide stability in school attendance and other services. Special attention will be given to ensuring the enrollment and attendance of homeless students/unaccompanied youth not currently attending school. Homeless students/unaccompanied youth will be provided district services for which they are eligible, including Head Start and comparable pre-school programs, Title 1, similar state programs, special education, bilingual education, vocational and technical education programs, gifted and talented programs and school nutrition programs.
Homeless students/unaccompanied youth are defined as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence including:
Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing or economic hardship;
Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
Are abandoned in hospitals;
Awaiting foster care placement;
Living in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodations for human beings;
Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations of similar settings;
Are migratory children living in conditions described in the previous examples.
The Superintendent shall designate an appropriate staff person to be the district's liaison for homeless students/unaccompanied youth and their families.
Services to be given to or on behalf of homeless students/unaccompanied youth are:
Training: The liaison will conduct training and sensitivity/awareness activities for administration and staff of Colquitt County Schools.
Coordination: The liaison shall coordinate with and seek support from the State Coordinator for the Education of homeless children/unaccompanied youth, public and private service providers, housing, and placement agencies.
Pre-School: Homeless students/unaccompanied youth will receive priority enrollment in preschool programs.
To the extent feasible, homeless students/unaccompanied youth will continue to be enrolled in their school of origin while they remain homeless/unaccompanied or until the end of the academic year in which they obtain permanent housing. Instead of remaining in the school of origin, parents or guardians of homeless students/unaccompanied youth may request enrollment in the school in which attendance area the students is actually living, or other schools. Attendance rights by living in attendance areas, other student assignment policies, or intra and inter-district choice options are available to homeless families on the same terms as families resident in the district.
If there is an enrollment dispute, the student shall be immediately enrolled in the school in which enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute. The parent or guardian shall be informed of the district's decision and their appeal rights in writing. The district's liaison will carry out dispute resolution as provided by state rule. Unaccompanied youth will also be enrolled pending resolution of the dispute.
Once the enrollment decision is made, the school shall immediately enroll the student pursuant to district policies. If the student does have immediate access to immunization records, the student shall be admitted under a personal exception. Students and families should be encouraged to obtain current immunization records or immunizations as soon as possible, and the district liaison is directed to assist. Records from the student's previous school shall be requested from the previous school pursuant to district policies. Emergency contact information is required at the time of enrollment consistent with district policies, including compliance with the state's address confidentiality program when necessary.
Homeless students/unaccompanied youth are entitled to transportation to their school of origin or the school where they are enrolled. If the school of origin is in a different district, or a homeless student/unaccompanied youth is living in another district but will attend his or her school of origin in this district, the districts will coordinate the transportation services necessary for the student, or will divide the costs equally.
The district's liaison for homeless students/unaccompanied youth and their families shall coordinate with local social service agencies that provide services to homeless children/unaccompanied youth and youths and their families; other school districts on issues of transportation and records transfers; and state and local housing agencies responsible for comprehensive housing affordability strategies. This coordination includes providing public notice of the educational rights of homeless students/unaccompanied youth in schools, family shelters, and soup kitchens. The district's liaison will also review and recommend amendments to district policies that may act as barriers to the enrollment of homeless students/unaccompanied youth.