COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 50
August 7, 1998

ADMINISTRATIVE

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Education of Homeless Children and Youth

 
  This memorandum provides information about federal legislation
  related to the education of homeless children and youth,
  recent state legislative changes, contact information for
  technical assistance, and a request for identification of a
  homeless education contact for each school division.  During
  the 1996-97 school year in Virginia, the Commonwealth's
  Homeless Education Program, Project HOPE, (Homeless Office for
  Programs in Education), determined the estimated number of
  preschool and school-age students who encountered homelessness
  exceeded 13,000.  These students were in rural, suburban, and
  urban settings.  Enrollment requirements can be barriers for
  this population of students, and the requirements of the
  following legislation address some of these barriers.

  Federal Legislation

  Subtitle VII-B of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance
  Act of 1987, Public Law 100-77, reauthorized November 29,
  1990, (Public Law 101-645) and September 28, 1994, (Public Law
  103-382) is intended to facilitate the enrollment, attendance,
  and success of homeless children and youth in school.  A
  homeless person is defined as:

          An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and
            adequate nighttime residence and who has a primary
            nighttime residence that is:

          1.   A supervised publicly or privately operated
                 shelter designed to provide temporary living
                 accommodations (including welfare hotels,
                 congregate shelters, and transitional housing
                 for the mentally ill);

          2.   An institution that provides a temporary
                 residence for individuals intended to be
                 institutionalized; or

          3.   A public or private place not designed for, or
                 ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping
                 accommodation for human beings.

  As a recipient of McKinney funds, Virginia must ensure that
  every homeless child and youth in the Commonwealth has equal
  access to services offered to other students in school and
  determined to be in the child's or youth's best interest.

  According to the United States Department of Education's
  Preliminary Guidance for the Education for Homeless Children
  and Youth Program (1995), each LEA has the following
  responsibilities under the McKinney Act for the education of
  homeless children and youth:

          Removal of barriers to school enrollment: LEAs must
            develop, review, and revise policies to eliminate
            barriers to the enrollment, retention, and success
            in school of homeless children and youth. 
            Generally, these barriers involve transportation
            issues and enrollment delays caused by immunization
            requirements; residency requirements, lack of birth
            certificates, school records, and other
            documentation, and guardianship issues.  All LEAs:


          1.   Must provide homeless children and youth with
                 transportation services that are comparable to
                 the services provided to non-homeless children.


          2.   Must determine the school that is in the best
                 interest of the homeless student to attend and
                 strive to eliminate barriers, including
                 transportation barriers, to the enrollment and
                 retention of the child in that school.

          3.   Are encouraged to designate an LEA liaison to
                 ensure that homeless children and youth enroll
                 in school and to coordinate services with local
                 social service agencies and programs, including
                 those funded under the Runaway and Homeless
                 Youth Act.

  State Legislation

  The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation related to
  educational access for homeless children and youth.  HB1812,
  effective July 1, 1997, amended school residency requirements
  in the Code of Virginia to include shelters.  The bill also
  added school-age persons living with a parent, guardian, or a
  person in loco-parentis in a temporary shelter to the list of
  persons for whom attendance in the public schools is free.

  The 1998 Virginia General Assembly requested that the
  Department of Education include homelessness as a risk factor
  in its programs.  HJR 61 states, "The Department is requested
  to review its current programs for at-risk students and
  identify those for which inclusion of homeless students as an
  eligible 
  student population would be appropriate, and provide guidance
  to the local educational authorities regarding the inclusion
  of the homeless student population in their development of
  targeted programs."

  Technical Support

  Beginning in 1995, the Virginia Department of Education
  contracted with The College of William and Mary to administer
  the homeless education program funded by the federal McKinney
  Act.  James H. Stronge, a professor in the Educational Policy
  Planning, and Leadership Department in the School of
  Education, is the State Coordinator.  Project HOPE, the name
  adopted by Virginia's Homeless Education Office, is available
  to provide technical assistance in the area of homeless
  education to all school divisions.

  Requests for technical support should be directed to:

          Project HOPE
          The College of William and Mary
          School of Education - Jones Hall
          P. O. Box 8795
          Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8795
          phone:    (757) 221-4002
          fax:      (757) 221-2988
          e-mail:   homlss@facstaff.wm.edu
          http://www.wm.edu/education/HOPE/Homeless.html

  Request for LEA Contact

  To facilitate compliance with federal and state statutes, LEAs
  are being asked to identify a school division employee to act
  as the school division's homeless education contact for data
  collection and information dissemination.  LEAs should provide
  the information on the attached sheet by September 15, 1998.

  Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact
  James 
  Stronge, Coordinator, or Patricia Popp, Program Administrator,
  at (757) 221-4002.


  PDS:tsc
  Attachment:  A hard copy of this memo and its attachment
               will be sent to the superintendent's office.      




                LOCAL HOMELESS EDUCATION CONTACT


  SCHOOL DIVISION:  __________________________________


  NAME OF LIAISON:  __________________________________


  TITLE:  ____________________________________________


  ADDRESS:  __________________________________________


  CITY:  _________________________, VIRGINIA  ZIP CODE:  ________
  

  PHONE:  __________________________


  FAX:  ____________________________


  E-MAIL:  _________________________