Frequently Asked Questions

What is McKinney-Vento?
Who may be considered homeless under the law?
How is eligibility decided?
What are the school choices for homeless students?
What factors should be considered when making school selection?
What is the enrollment procedure?
What about transportation?
What if there is a disagreement over eligibility/enrollment/transportation?

What is McKinney-Vento? Top
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was originally signed into law in 1987. Title VII, Subtitle B of that law is included in the 2002 reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, Title X. The statute requires every public school district and charter holder to designate a Homeless Liaison to ensure that homeless students are identified, immediately enrolled in school, have access to educational opportunities equal to those of their non-homeless peers, and receive assistance in evaluating and meeting other needs unique to their situation.

Goal: “To ensure that homeless children and youth have access to a free, appropriate public education, comparable to that provided to the children of any Arizona resident and consistent with Arizona’s mandatory school attendance laws.” – Arizona Department of Education

Who may be considered homeless under the law? Top
According to McKinney-Vento definitions homeless children and youth may include those:
  • In a shelter, temporary shared housing, or transitional living program
  • In a hotel/motel, campground, or similar situation due to lack of alternatives
  • At a bus station, park, car, or abandoned building
  • In emergency, temporary foster care "awaiting foster care placement."

Unaccompanied Youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence also have rights under McKinney-Vento. According to the law the term 'unaccompanied youth' includes a youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

How is eligibility decided? Top
Determinations of eligibility are made on a case-by-case basis using the following key criteria:
  • Housing that is Temporary or Transitional
  • Due to Hardship or Crisis
  • Due to lack of alternatives        

What are the school choices for homeless students? Top
McKinney-Vento allows eligible students to select/attend one of the following:
  • The school of origin: The school attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled
  • The school of residency: The school in the attendance area where the student currently resides

What factors should be considered when making school selection?                          
The primary concern is what is in the best interest of the student. The safety, welfare, and educational stability of the student must be considered when deciding on the appropriate school choice.

Some questions parents, liaisons, and school staff should think about include:   
  • How old is the student?
  • How deep are the student’s ties to the school of origin?
  • How many times has the student changed schools?
  • What is the commute distance and how will it impact the student?
  • Does the student have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or other special
    program needs to consider?
  • Are there any safety issues to consider?
  • How long will the student likely be at the current temporary residence?
  • Where is the student likely to be relocated when permanent housing is
    obtained?
  • Where are other school age siblings attending? Top

What is the enrollment procedure? Top
A Student Residency Questionnaire will be provided to all families or unaccompanied youth seeking enrollment at any Mesa Public School. If any of the four questions at the top of the questionnaire are answered NO, the following procedure will be followed:

  • The student will be immediately enrolled and the district homeless family liaison will be contacted to verify the student’s eligibility under McKinney-Vento.
  • The family/student will be provided with the “Rights of Homeless Students” policy and the “Information to Parents” flyer.
  • The liaison will work with eligible students/families to obtain missing records, documents, immunizations, etc. according to district, state, and federal guidelines. The student needs to remain in attendance at school while these matters are being resolved.
  • Once enrolled at a school site, McKinney-Vento eligible students have the right to remain in attendance at that site until the end of the school year after becoming permanently housed.

If the liaison determines the student is NOT eligible under McKinney-Vento, the family has the right to dispute. The student has the right to remain in attendance where enrollment is sought while the dispute is being resolved. Please see What if there is a disagreement over eligibility, enrollment, or transportation?

What about transportation? Top
  • Regular district bus transportation is provided for: Elementary students more than 1 mile from school; Junior High students more than 1.5 miles from school; Senior High students more than 2 miles from school.
  • If an eligible student is temporarily residing beyond established attendance boundaries, McKinney-Vento requires school districts to provide them with transportation to and from school of origin upon parental request and if it is determined to be in the best interest of the student.
  • District transportation obligations apply only to compulsory school attendance during the regular school day unless lack of extended-day transportation is a barrier to the student's full participation in school and opportunities for academic success. Contact the district homeless family liaison if there are special circumstances to be considered.
  • Districts are not obligated to provide transportation to locations other than to/from school and primary nighttime residence.
  • District transportation may be provided by traditional bus, Type A bus, van, contracted transport servers, dispensing public transportation passes, or reimbursing parents who are able to transport and who meet certain district guidelines (contact the liaison for more information).
  • District transportation for homeless education MUST be coordinated through the district homeless family liaison.
  • Some situations require two districts to share student transportation responsibilities.
  • It is parent responsibility to notify the transportation department(s) if your child(ren) will not be at a designated stop. District transportation may be cancelled after three no-shows if the transportation department is not called. Keep in contact with the liaison to help resolve transportation or communication issues quickly.
  • The same behavior rules apply for ALL students provided district transportation regardless of housing status. Transportation may be suspended for any students displaying extreme or persistent misbehavior.

What if there is a disagreement over eligibility, enrollment, or transportation? Top
The parent has the right to dispute any eligibility, enrollment, or transportation decision made for their student. The liaison can assist families in understanding and starting the dispute process.

If it is a liaison decision that is being disputed, the Director of Title 1 will mediate the dispute and provide a decision in writing. If parent disputes the director’s decision, they may appeal that decision to the Arizona State Department of Education.

Please note: The student has the right to remain in attendance at the school where enrollment is sought while the dispute is being resolved.