Information for Homeless Families
Education Rights of Students Who Are Homeless
This site provides information for families of students who are homeless. Glen Ellyn School District 41 uses the definitions of homelessness and addresses the educational rights of students who are homeless as set forth in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Every District 41 student is entitled to a free and appropriate education. Every school district is required to designate a person to serve as “Homeless Liaison.” The liaison can help with problems related to enrollment, request transportation on behalf of the children, help obtain immunizations or immunization records and birth certificates, and help mediate disputes with the school district. They are also there to help youth without parents or guardians. Geri Adkins is Glen Ellyn School District 41’s full-time identified homeless liaison. You may contact her at 630-534-7340. Through a grant partnership with District 89, a part-time homeless liaison is also on staff to assist you. Heather Britton may be reached at 630-534-7589. If you think your family may qualify for homeless services, or your family is having financial difficulties, please contact your school principal or your school social worker. Your information will always be treated confidentially.
Who is “homeless”?
The definition of homelessness is broader than people may think. You or your family are considered "homeless" if you are:
- Living in a shelter, motel, vehicle, or campground;
- Living on the street;
- Living in an abandoned building, trailer, or other inadequate accommodation;
- Doubled up with friends or relatives because you can't find or afford housing;
- Waiting for a foster-care placement
Students who are homeless have certain legal rights, including:
- The right to go to school and receive the services you need, just like other students; for example, the fees for lunch provided by the school as well as the fees for textbooks should be waived. Also, you are automatically eligible for Title I services. Title I services may include before- and after-school programs, tutoring programs, or other assistance such as graphing calculators required for math classes;
- The right to continue in the school you were in before you became homeless, if you want to;
- The right to continue in the same school you are in if you are homeless now;
- The right to transportation to school, according to current District transportation guidelines;
- The right to enroll and attend classes without giving a permanent address.
- The right to enroll and attend classes even if you are missing documents usually required for enrollment; that is - the right to enroll immediately, even if you don't have all the required paperwork. Schools normally require parents to have birth certificates, proof of residency, school records, and medical records with them when they enroll their children. If you are experiencing one of the housing situations covered by the McKinney-Vento Act, then you can enroll your children without these documents, although you may need to get some of them later.
- The right to attend the school of your choice (prior district or current attendance area) while a dispute over your enrollment is being resolved, or, if the school district sends your child to a school other than the school of your choice, you have the right to a written explanation and the right to appeal that decision.
- The right to attend school and school activities without the fear of being singled out. Children in unstable housing situations cannot be separated from their peers just because of their housing situation. They have the right to attend school and participate in extracurricular activities just like any other student.
Students at any grade level who become homeless during the school year may choose to:
- Stay in their school of origin* and receive extended transportation (school staff will initiate the transportation arrangements for the parents by contacting the District 41 Homeless Liaison), or
- Apply for a new school based on the new temporary address with transportation subject to standard transportation guidelines.
Students who are homeless and who currently live within the boundaries of District 41, but whose school of origin is in another school district have the following choices:
- Stay in their school in the other district and receive extended transportation services. In this case, District 41 reserves the right to confer with the other school district to determine if continuing at the school of origin is in the best interests of the student. Issues that may affect whether the best interests of the student are being served include consideration of the student's age/grade, health, distance/time of travel needed each way, and month of the school year.
- Enroll in District 41 to be near where they currently live.
Even if the student stays at the school in the other district, they must be enrolled in District 41 as a homeless student in order to receive transportation to the school of origin. Therefore, students at any grade level who have been homeless, but now have permanent housing may choose to:
- Complete the school year at their school of origin with extended transportation services
*"School of origin" means the school that the student attended when last permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled. The School of Origin may have been in another school district.
If you have any questions with regard to the above information, please do not hesitate to call Geri Adkins at 630-534-7340