On May 8, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) issued updated guidance to assist public elementary and secondary schools to ensure enrollment processes are consistent with the law and fulfill their obligation to provide all children – regardless of national origin, immigration status or background – equal access to an education. Such equal access extends to children who come into the United States from other countries without an adult guardian. These children are referred to as unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in federal statutes.
An unaccompanied alien child is a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States; has not attained 18 years of age; and, with respect to whom, there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States, or no parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody.
While a case-by-case review of each child’s circumstances upon enrolling in a Virginia public school is necessary, many of these unaccompanied children will be deemed homeless under applicable state and federal law. Pursuant to Va. Code § 22.1-3, a homeless child is one who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The statute specifies that, included in this definition, are “unaccompanied youths who are not in the physical custody of their parents, who … are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or other causes; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations or in emergency, congregate, temporary, or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement.”
School divisions must immediately enroll homeless students, even if those students are unable to produce the records required for enrollment. In addition, division superintendents cannot exclude from school attendance those homeless children who do not provide the requisite health or immunization information required of other students. School divisions must immediately refer the student to the school division liaison required to assist the student in obtaining necessary physical examinations or proof of completion of immunizations. For more information regarding the enrollment of homeless students.
You can find additional info at:
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/students_parents/student_enrollment.shtml and in Superintendent’s Memo No. 194-14, which was issued on July 25, 2014, and revised last week.
© 2014, Stacy Shaw. All rights reserved.