Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

P. O. Box 2120

Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120


December 5, 2003



Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Educating Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness and Dispute Resolution


This memorandum includes Virginias dispute resolution process which has been developed to comply with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, Title X, Part C of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. NCLB expands state and local school division responsibilities to ensure children and youth experiencing homelessness have access to and meet with success in the public school system. By accepting other federal funds through NCLB, such as Title I, Part A, the state and localities have assured coordination with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act. One such responsibility is to develop a state plan that includes, a description of the procedures for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding the school selection for homeless children and youths [Title X, Part C, 722(g)(1)(C)]. Readers are referred to Supts. Memo 51, March 28, 2003, for additional guidance and sample forms regarding school selection options.


The dispute resolution process, including appeal, is presented in Attachment A. McKinney-Vento states that local homeless education liaisons ensure compliance with this process. Your local liaison should incorporate the attached dispute resolution into local procedures for serving children and youth in homeless situations.


The following components of the McKinney-Vento Act were considered in developing the dispute resolution process.


School Selection

       According to a child or youth's best interest, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) must either continue the child/youth's education in the school of origin, or enroll the child/youth in school in any public school that nonhomeless students who live in the attendance area where the child/youth is actually living are eligible to attend [722(g)(3)(A)].

       "School of origin" is defined as the school the child or youth attended when permanently housed or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled [722(g)(3)(G)].

       In determining best interest, LEAs must, to the extent feasible, keep children/youth in the school of origin, unless it is against the wishes of the parent/guardian [722(g)(3)(B)(i)].

       If the LEA sends the child/youth to a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent or guardian, the LEA must provide written explanation (sample format included with Superintendents Memo #51) to the parent or guardian, including the right to appeal under the enrollment dispute resolution process [722(g)(3)(B)(ii)].

       In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the local homeless education liaison must assist in placement/enrollment decisions, consider the youth's wishes, and provide notice to the youth of the right to appeal under the enrollment disputes resolution process [722(g)(3)(B)(iii)].

Dispute Resolution Process

       If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the child/youth must be immediately admitted to the school in which he/she is seeking enrollment, pending resolution of the dispute [722(g)(3)(E)(i)].

       The parent or guardian must be provided with a written explanation of the schools decision on the dispute, including the right to appeal [722(g)(3)(E)(ii)].

       The parent/guardian/youth must be referred to the local homeless education liaison, who will carry out the states grievance procedure as expeditiously as possible after receiving notice of the dispute [722(g)(3)(E)(iii)].

       In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the local homeless education liaison shall ensure that the youth is immediately enrolled in school pending resolution of the dispute [722(g)(3)(E)(iv)].


Requests for technical support should be directed to the Office of the State Coordinator for Homeless Education:


Patricia A. Popp, Ph.D., State Coordinator

Project HOPE-Virginia

The College of William and Mary

School of Education - Jones Hall 305

P. O. Box 8795

Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8795

Phone: (757) 221-4002, Toll free: (877) 455-3412

Fax: (757) 221-2988, TDD: (757) 221- 2302