McKinney - Vento Act & Rights of Homeless Students


    McKinney-Vento Act

    Reauthorized in December 2015, as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), every student experiencing homelessness is entitled to:
    • A free, appropriate public education.
    • Education in a mainstream school environment.
    • Participation in the school food service program.
    • Consideration of parent’s requests regarding placement at the school of origin or the zoned school.
    • Immediate enrollment, even if lacking required documents. The law allows for additional time to obtain the required enrollment documentation.
    • Placement in their school of origin the entire time they are homeless, and until the end of any academic year in which they move into permanent housing.
    • Prompt resolution of disputes regarding MVA eligibility and school selection or enrollment.
    • No isolation or stigmatization due to their homeless status.
    • Educational, social, athletic, and recreational services offered to other students.

    The Mckinney-Vento Act definition of homeless:

    Any child or youth (Pre-K-12th grade) who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence:
    • Living in emergency or transitional shelters, FEMA Trailers, abandoned in hospitals.
    • Sharing in the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason; doubled-up.
    • Living in cars, parks, temporary trailer parks, or campgrounds, due to a lack of alternative adequate accommodations, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, public or private place not designated for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
    • Living in hotels or motels.
    Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

    Any child or youth who meets the definition of an individual experiencing homelessness and is not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.


    School Selection:
    Students experiencing homelessness can stay in their school of origin or enroll in any public school that students living in the same attendance area are eligible to attend, according to their best interest.
    1. School of Origin-means the school that a student attended when permanently housed or the school in which the student was last enrolled, including a preschool. 
    2. Best interest– keeps the student in the school of origin, but considers student-centered factors to determine the best placement for students.
    If a student is sent to a school other than that requested by a parent or guardian, the district must provide a written explanation to the parent of its decision and the right to appeal.


    The Term “enroll” and “enrollment” include attending classes and participating fully in school activities.
    • Have the right to enroll in school immediately, even if they do not have required documents or, such as school records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documents.
    • Lack of school uniforms cannot delay a student's immediate enrollment.
    • Enrolling schools must obtain school records from previous schools and students must be enrolled while obtaining records.
    • Federal law supersedes state and local laws where there is a conflict (U.S. Constitution, Article V).

    Access Services

    • Transportation must be provided to and from the homeless student’s school of origin upon request of parent or guardian.
    • In addition, the district must provide students in homeless situations with transportation services comparable to those provided for non-homeless students.
    • School districts must eliminate barriers to school enrollment and retention of students experiencing homelessness.
    Food Service:
    Free breakfast and lunches are available for homeless students.
    Unaccompanied Youth:
    • A District liaison or designee must be willing to assist the unaccompanied youth to choose and enroll in a school.
    • Inform the youth of his/her appeal rights and the rights under the law.
    • School personnel must be aware of the specific needs of runaway and homeless youth

    Preschool-Aged Children:

    • District Liaison must ensure that families and children experiencing homelessness receive a public preschool program.

    Pinellas County Schools Policy & State and National Legislation

    For more information on the McKinney-Vento Act, please see the following web pages.

    Pinellas County Policy on Homelessness - found under District Bylaws and Policies Manual - under 5000 - Students   - 5111.01 - Homeless Students

    McKinney-Vento Issue Briefs (National Center For Homeless Education)

    The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth