As The Valley Reporter goes to press on Wednesday, September 28, the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board plans to discuss a new draft policy (F24) on serving homeless students at its September 28 meeting. “Policy F24 is both new for our district and required,” said HUUSD Board chair Kristen Rodgers, Moretown. “The board wants to make sure our district has all the policies we are required to have. We were missing this particular policy that is why it's on the agenda.”
HUUSD superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter said bringing forth the policy was in order to be in compliance with federal regulations and not in response to a specific issue in the district. The board will discuss warning policy F24 to adopt at its October 26 meeting. He said that homelessness impacts fewer than 10 students in the district.
The draft policy defines homeless students as “those lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, which could include: sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; Living in emergency or transitional shelters; Being abandoned in hospitals; Having a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings; Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations or similar settings; and migratory children living in conditions described in the previous examples.”
The draft policy states, “The Harwood Unified Union School District is committed to the success of every student. Homeless students in the District will have access to the education and other services needed to ensure that an opportunity is available to meet the same academic achievement standards to which all students are held. The District will designate a liaison for students in homeless situations to carry out duties as required by law. The District will ensure that homeless students are not stigmatized nor segregated on the basis of their status as homeless. A homeless student will be admitted to the school district in which the student is actually living or to the student’s school of origin as requested by the parent and in accordance with the student’s best interest. Transportation will be provided to and from the student's school of origin at the request of the parent, or in the case of an unaccompanied student, the District’s liaison for homeless students. Homeless students will have access to all programs and services for which they are eligible, including but not limited to special education services, preschool, school nutrition programs, and language assistance for English learners.”
It further states, “The superintendent or designee shall develop written procedures to ensure the following rights of eligible students: Equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public prekindergarten education, as is provided to other children and youth; Immediate enrollment, even when records normally required for enrollment are not present; Remain in the school of origin, if it is in the student’s best interest, in order to maintain educational stability; Access to all educational and related services for which they are eligible, including Title I services, educational programs for children with disabilities, educational programs for English learners, career and technical education, programs for gifted and talented students, and free school meals; Full participation in school, which may include participation in extracurricular activities; Transportation, provided by the local education agency (LEA), to and from the school of origin; Privacy, such that information about a homeless student’s living situation will be treated as a student education record and not deemed to be directory information. Dispute an eligibility, school selection, or enrollment decision, and for a child or youth to be admitted to the school in which enrollment is sought, pending the resolution of the dispute.”