Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Homeless Children & Youth

Bear Creek Community Charter School is committed to helping children and youth experiencing homelessness access all the benefits of attending school by removing barriers to a free and appropriate public education. Our goal is to have a student's education continue as uninterrupted as possible while he or she is homeless.

Children and youth who experience homelessness face many barriers to education, yet school can be a source of stability, affirmation, and hope during a time of chaos and trauma when a young person loses his or her housing. Community service providers play a key role in linking homeless children and youth to schools and providing wraparound services that can bolster their attendance and educational success.

The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that addresses homeless education assistance, and requires:

  • Immediate school enrollment and full participation in all school activities for eligible children, even when records normally required for enrollment are not available;

  • The right of children and youth experiencing homelessness to remain in their school of origin (the school the student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled), when feasible and in the child’s or youth’s best interest to do so;

  • Transportation to and from the school of origin;

  • Access to programs and services, including special education services, preschool services, free school meals, Title I services, services for English language learners, and gifted services;

  • Rights and protections specifically for unaccompanied youth (youth who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) who are experiencing homelessness, including allowing them to be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship;

  • The right to dispute an 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; and

  • The appointment of a local homeless education liaison in every school district or local education agency to ensure that homeless children and youth are identified and given full and equal access to all educational services for which they are eligible in order to succeed in school.

School Liaison

You can obtain more information about the rights of homeless students and support services that are available to homeless students by contacting Bear Creek Community Charter School’s homeless liaison:

Melanie Leo, School Counselor
Telephone: 570.820.4070, extension 6200
E-mail: melanie.leo@bearcreekschool.com

Dispute Resolution Process

Children, youth and parents/guardians will be made aware of their right to challenge the school’s decision regarding aspects relating to the McKinney-Vento Act.

If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the child or youth involved will be immediately admitted to school, pending resolution of the dispute.

The child or youth, or the parent/guardian will initiate a dispute with Bear Creek Community Charter School’s homeless liaison. The homeless liaison will convene a meeting of the School Leadership Team to review the matter, and will issue a written disposition of the dispute within twenty (20) business days after he/she is notified of the dispute. The disposition shall be provided to the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth and will explain the basis for the decision and advise the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth of the right to appeal.

If the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth is dissatisfied with the disposition of a dispute or would like to raise any issue of McKinney-Vento Act noncompliance, they may file a complaint or appeal with a McKinney-Vento regional coordinator or with the state coordinator. The school’s homeless liaison will provide this contact information. In lieu of filing an appeal with a McKinney-Vento coordinator, a parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth may elect to appeal the school’s decision directly to a court of competent jurisdiction. Participation in the appeal procedure is not required prior to taking legal action.

Regional Coordinator
Jeff Zimmerman
Luzerne Intermediate Unit #18
(570) 718-4613
State Coordinator
Storm Camara
PA Department of Education
333 Market Street, 5th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333