North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA) shall provide an educational environment that treats all students with dignity and respect. Every student experiencing homelessness shall have access to the same free and appropriate educational opportunities as students who are not homeless. This commitment to the educational rights of homeless children, youth, including homeless unaccompanied youth, applies to all services, programs, and activities provided or made available.
Eligibility Under McKinney-Vento
A student may be considered eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act if they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including,
- Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a 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.
- Living in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
- Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.
- Migratory children living in the above circumstances.
- Unaccompanied youth living in the above circumstances.
Identified students under the law will be eligible for immediate enrollment or placement on the wait list if it is determined to be in the best interest of the student, depending on grade level space available. Documentation and immunization records cannot serve as a barrier to enrollment in the school. Additional information can be found below, including the rights of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth to appeal decisions related to identification, school placement, transportation, etc., and the appeal process to resolve disputes.
Parent/ Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Rights
Unaccompanied homeless youth are ensured the same educational rights that the McKinney-Vento Act provides for other homeless students, which include the right to:
- Enroll immediately, even if they do not currently have paperwork normally required for enrollment.
- Attend either the local attendance area school or the school of origin, with the placement decision based on the student’s best interest.
- Remain in the school of origin for the duration of the homelessness or until the end of the school year in which the student becomes permanently housed.
- Receive transportation to and from the school of origin.
- Receive educational services, such as free school meals, Title I services, participate in gifted and talented programs, vocational education, alternative education, and any other services comparable to what housed students receive.
- Not be stigmatized or segregated on the basis of their status as homeless.
In addition to the provisions that apply to all homeless students, the McKinney-Vento Act includes the following provisions specifically for unaccompanied homeless youth:
- Unaccompanied homeless youth shall be immediately enrolled without proof of guardianship.
- During a dispute over school selection or enrollment, unaccompanied homeless youth shall receive a written statement explaining the school’s decision, the youth’s right to appeal the decision, and a referral to the local liaison.
Local Liaisons shall assist unaccompanied homeless youth in:
- Selecting a school of attendance and enrolling in school.
- Requesting transportation to and from the school of origin.
- Enrolling in school immediately while disputes are resolved.
Paige Adams, Student Resource Coordinator