Code of Maine Rules
05 - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
071 - EDUCATION - GENERAL
Chapter 14 - EDUCATION OF HOMELESS STUDENTS
Section 071-14-4 - OBLIGATIONS OF COVERED ENTITIES

Current through 2023-52, December 27, 2023

1. Appointment and Support of a Local Homeless Education Liaison

A covered entity must appoint and support a local homeless education liaison. The liaison must attend training provided by the Department of Education. The liaison is responsible for ensuring that:

A. homeless students are identified by school personnel through outreach and coordination with other entities and agencies;

B. there is an established process for routine communication with all career and technology education (CTE) centers and regions, other regional and out of district entities, special purpose private schools, and private schools that receive public funds to serve students enrolled through the covered entity so that students attending such programs are promptly and equally identified;

C. homeless students are enrolled in, and have an equal opportunity to succeed in, schools in the covered entity;

D. homeless students and their families have access to and receive educational services for which such students and families are eligible, including Career and Technical Education programs, Head Start programs, early intervention services under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and other public preschool programs;

E. homeless students and their families receive referrals to health care services, dental services, mental health and substance abuse services, housing services, and other appropriate services;

F. parents or guardians of homeless students are informed of the educational and related opportunities available to their children and are provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children;

G. public notice of the educational rights of homeless students is disseminated in locations frequented by parents or guardians of such students and unaccompanied homeless students;

H. disputes over identification and enrollment are resolved using the local dispute resolution process described in subsection 8 below;

I. parents or guardians of homeless students and unaccompanied homeless students are informed of the availability of transportation services and are assisted in accessing transportation to the school the student will attend; and

J. school personnel in the unit receive appropriate training such that they are aware of laws, policies, and practices pertaining to the education of homeless students.

2. Inform all families of the rights of homeless students

A covered entity must provide written notice to all parents, guardians, and unaccompanied youth regarding the choice of schools available to youth who meet the definition of homeless, the right to comparable services, full participation, transportation, school meals, and the right to be served in school without stigma or separation. Notice must include contact information for the local liaison, described below, and for the State Coordinator for Homeless Education. Notice must be presented at the time any child or youth seeks enrollment in the covered entity and be widelyavailable throughout the school year.

3. Identification of Homeless Students

A. Covered entities must have processes in place to identify students who meet the definition of homeless student, as set forth in Section 1.1, and must maintain records of all students identified as homeless.

B. If a dispute arises over eligibility, any covered entity that refuses to identify a student as a homeless student, must provide the parent, guardian or (in the case of an unaccompanied homeless student) the student with a clear, understandable written explanation of the reasons for its determination, including information regarding the right to appeal.

C. In the case of a dispute over eligibility, a covered entity must treat a student as if they are eligible, including making a determination of the student's best interest and ensuring that the student is enrolled in accordance with subsection 3 below, pending final resolution of the dispute (including all available appeals).

4. School Stability and Determination of Student's Best Interest

A. The school administrative unit or other covered entity that operates or is otherwise responsible for funding the student's attendance at his or her school of origin shall, according to the student's best interest:
(1) Continue the student's education in the school of origin for the duration of homelessness in any case in which a family becomes homeless between academic years or during an academic year and for the remainder of the academic year, if the student becomes permanently housed during an academic year; or

(2) Ensure that the student is enrolled in a school operated by the school administrative unit of current residence, including providing the student's education records to the school administrative unit of current residence.

(3) Exception: The school administrative unit of current residence, rather than the school administrative unit of origin, may carry out the responsibilities designated in Paragraph 4A at the request of the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth or if the school unit of residence is unable to obtain a prompt response to its request for a determination by the SAU of origin.

B. In determining the best interest of the homeless student, the covered entity described subsection A above must:
(1) Initially presume that keeping the student in the school of origin is in the student's best interest except when doing so is contrary to the request of the parent or guardian or (in the case of an unaccompanied homeless student) the student;

(2) Consider student-centered factors related to the student's best interest, including factors related to the impact of mobility on achievement, education, health and safety of homeless students, giving priority to the request of the student's parent or guardian, or the unaccompanied student;

(3) Consider the views of the school administrative unit of current residence;

(4) If the determination is that it is not in the student's best interest to attend the school of origin or the school requested by the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied student, provide the parent, guardian or unaccompanied youth a clear, understandable written explanation of the reasons for its determination, including information regarding the right to appeal; and

(5) In the case of an unaccompanied student, ensure that the local homeless education liaison assists in placement or enrollment decisions, gives priority to the view of the unaccompanied student, and provides notice to the student of the right to appeal.

(6) In the case of a dispute over enrollment, ensure that the student in enrolled in the school that the parent, guardian or unaccompanied student has selected pending final resolution of the dispute (including all available appeals).

5. Enrollment

Covered entities are responsible for eliminating barriers to the immediate enrollment of students who are determined to be homeless, even if the student is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment or if an application or enrollment deadline has been missed during a period of homelessness. The entity must assist students and families to obtain needed records, but may not delay enrollment due to their absence. The determination of eligibility and/or best interest may be reconsidered in light of documentation that becomes available after enrollment.

Covered entities must ensure that homeless students are fully able to participate in school activities and may not prevent unaccompanied homeless students from participation in school activities based on the lack of a parent or guardian to sign school forms such as a permission slip or release.

6. Confidentiality and Privacy

The identification of a student as homeless is part of that student's education record and is therefore subject to the provisions of FERPA and 20-A M.R.S. §6001. Information regarding a student's living situation is personally identifiable information that cannot constitute directory information and can only be disclosed with prior written consent, except where FERPA provides a specific exception, such as a disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests, for transfer or enrollment purposes, to appropriate parties in connection with a student's financial aid application, or to appropriate health, safety, monitoring, and judicial authorities under conditions set forth in FERPA.

Covered entities should establish communications practices to protect the privacy of homeless students and their families out of an appreciation for the fact that homeless students and their families are often victims of domestic violence and other safety issues that make inappropriate release of personally identifying information especially problematic.

7. Access to comparable services

Homeless students, regardless of where they are enrolled, must have access to all specialized services for which they are eligible and full access to all programs and services comparable to those that are available to non-homeless students attending the school. This includes, but is not limited to: school choice options, before and after school programs, special education, transportation, support services, supplemental and enrichment programming, and programs designed to increase college readiness. Homeless students are immediately eligible for the school's free lunch program and federal Title IA programs, even if the school in which they are enrolled is not a Title I school.

8. Transportation

If requested by a parent, guardian, or unaccompanied youth, homeless students must be provided with daily transportation to and from school, regardless of whether non-homeless students in the school are eligible for transportation services. If the homeless student continues to live in the geographic area where the school of origin is located, the school administrative unit of origin is responsible for providing transportation to the school of origin. If the student is attending the school of origin but not residing in the geographic area where the school of origin is located, the school administrative units of origin and current residence should collaborate in order provide the safest, most appropriate and efficient use of transportation resources.

If the school administrative unit provides transportation to its students for other academic and/or other supplemental activities, comparable transportation services must also be made available to homeless students. In cases where a lack of transportation poses a barrier to a homeless student's full participation in school programs for which he or she is eligible or which are deemed critical for the student's success, the school unit must provide the needed transportation services.

When providing transportation for homeless students, schools are expected to employ the same safety standards that are used in the regular transportation program.

9. Local dispute resolution

Covered entities must have a clear written procedure for resolving eligibility and enrollment disputes between the school administrative unit and the parent/guardian of a homeless student (or, in the case of an unaccompanied youth, the student him or herself). The State Homeless Education Coordinator will provide a model local dispute resolution procedure on the Department's website that covered entities may use to devise their own processes. Parents, guardians, and unaccompanied students must be informed of the local process. Should an unaccompanied homeless youth, or a parent/guardian of a homeless student wish to dispute the school's eligibility decision or the school's determination of best interest, they are to be referred to the local liaison for the unit of origin. The liaison is responsible for assisting students and families through the local dispute resolution process and through a state level appeal if that is requested. Covered entities must maintain records of dispute resolution actions at the local level and convey those records to the Department of Education's State Homeless Education Coordinator if a state level appeal is sought. During the local dispute resolution process, students must be treated as if they are eligible, and enrolled in the school that the parent, guardian, or unaccompanied student selects.

Disclaimer: These regulations may not be the most recent version. Maine may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
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