5151 – Student Policies – Student Attendance – Residency and School Admissions

5151
Student Policies
Student Attendance

Residency and School Admissions

The West Genesee Board of Education (the “Board”) affirms its obligation to provide a tuition- free education for all eligible students who reside within the West Genesee Central School District (the “District”), and believes that the factors and procedures for making determinations regarding residency should be firmly defined. It is the policy of the Board to provide a tuition- free education to all resident students of appropriate age and to deny admission to nonresident students, all in accordance with the following guidelines:

A. Definition of Residency

“Residency” means a fixed abode or dwelling place which is intended to be a permanent residence, as distinguished from a dwelling not intended to be permanent. The residence of an un-emancipated student shall generally be presumed to be the residence of that student’s parents. If a student’s parent(s), legal guardian(s), custodian(s), or any other person(s) who exercise actual parental custody and control over the student (collectively the “Person in Parental Relation”) relinquish parental custody and control in favor of another person, the new residence of the student shall be deemed to be the residence of the person assuming custody and control over the student. The District may, however, disregard any such change of residence which is undertaken for the sole purpose of achieving resident status for school attendance purposes. An emancipated student’s residence shall generally be deemed to be the actual residence of the emancipated student. All determinations regarding residency status shall be made by the Superintendent of Schools (the “Superintendent”) or a designee.

B. Resident Students

  1. Attendance and Verification
    All persons over the age of five (5) years and under the age of twenty-one (21) years who are residents of the District are entitled to attend a public school within the District free of charge, subject to this policy, if the person has not received a high school diploma, or its equivalency. When a parent or person in parental relation requests enrollment of a child within the District, the child shall be enrolled and begin attendance on the next school day. Within three business days of this initial enrollment, the Superintendent or designee must review all documentation submitted on the child’s behalf and make a determination as to residency. The Superintendent will require verification of age, residency, and immunization and health certificates. Information regarding the type of evidence needed for such purposes will be provided to parents or persons in parental relation at the time that enrollment is requested.
  2. Online Registration (Draft) –  All persons are able to register by appointment or non-appointment (walk-in). Computers are provided for the residents use for enrollment purposes.
  3. Veterans – A veteran of any age who has served as a member of the armed forces of the United States, has been discharged under conditions other than  dishonorable, and is a resident of the District, is entitled to attend a public school within the District free of charge, subject to this policy and any other terms and/or conditions established by the Board.
  4. Homeless Children (Draft) – If a homeless child is currently located within the District or was located within the District at the time the child became homeless, then the parent or Person in Parental Relation of the homeless child, or the homeless child if no parent or Person in Parental Relation is available (an unaccompanied youth), shall be entitled to designate the District as the school district which the child shall attend in accordance with the federal McKinney-Vento Act and New York State implementing law and regulation.

The Board recognizes the unique challenges that face homeless students and will provide these students with access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschool education, as other children and youth and access to educational and other services necessary to be successful in school, and will ensure that they are not separated from the mainstream school environment. The Board is also committed to eliminating barriers to the identification, enrollment, attendance, or success of homeless students.

As defined in Commissioner’s regulations, a “homeless child” means a child or youth who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including a child who is:

  1. Sharing the housing of other persons due to a loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
  2. Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  3. Abandoned in hospitals; or
  4. A migratory child who qualifies as homeless in accordance with Commissioner’s regulations. The term “migratory child” includes a child who is, or whose parent or spouse is, a migratory agricultural worker, including a migratory dairy worker, or a migratory fisher, and who has moved from one school district to another in the preceding 36 months, in order to obtain, or accompanies his or her parent or spouse in order to obtain, temporary, or seasonal employment in agricultural or fishing work; or
  5. A child or youth who has a primary nighttime location that is: A supervised, publicly, or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations, including, but not limited to, shelters operated or approved by the state or local department of social services, and residential programs for runaway and homeless youth established in accordance with Executive Law Article 19-H; or A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; including a child or youth who is living in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station or similar setting.

An “unaccompanied youth” means a homeless child not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian. This term does not include a child or youth who is residing with someone other than a parent or legal guardian for the sole reason of taking advantage of the schools of the District.

A designator will decide which school district a homeless child or unaccompanied youth will attend. A designator is:

a. The parent or person in parental relation to a homeless child; or
b. The homeless child, together with the homeless liaison designated by the District, in the case of an unaccompanied youth; or
c. The director of a residential program for runaway and homeless youth, in consultation with the homeless child, where the homeless child is living in that program.

The designator may select either the school district of current location or the school district of origin. However, the designated school district must determine whether the designation made by the parent, guardian, or youth, in the case of an unaccompanied youth, is consistent with the best interest of the child by considering certain student-centered factors, including factors related to the impact on education and the health and safety of the child or youth.

A homeless child is entitled to attend the school district of origin for the duration of his or her homelessness and also through the remainder of the school year in which he or she locates permanent housing in accordance with his or her best interest.
The term “school district of origin” includes preschool and feeder schools as defined by applicable law.

Enrollment, Retention, and Participation in the Educational Program

The District will immediately enroll children and youth who are homeless even if the child missed any relevant application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness. The ability of a homeless child or youth to continue or participate in the educational program will similarly not be restricted due to issues such as:

  1. Transportation;
  2. Immunization requirements;
  3. Residency requirements;
  4. Birth certificates, medical records, individualized education programs (IEPs), school records and other documentation;
  5. Guardianship issues;
  6. Comprehensive assessment and advocacy referral processes;
  7. Resolution of disputes regarding school selection;
  8. Proof of social security numbers;
  9. Attendance requirements;
  10. Sports participation rules;
  11.  Inability to pay fees associated with extracurricular activities such as club dues and sports uniforms; or
  12. Other enrollment issues.

Educational Programs and Services

The District will provide homeless children and youth with access to all of its programs, activities, and services to the same extent that they are provided to resident students.

Homeless children and youth will be educated as part of the school’s regular academic program. Services will be provided to homeless children and youth through programs and mechanisms that integrate homeless children and youth with their non-homeless counterparts, including programs for special education, vocational and technical education, enrichment opportunities, before and after school, English language learners, Head Start, Even Start, and school nutrition. Services provided with McKinney-Vento funds will expand upon or improve services provided as part of the regular school program. Consequently, the District will ensure that homeless children and youth are not segregated in a separate school, or in a separate program within the school, based on their status as homeless; and to the extent feasible consistent with the requirements of Commissioner’s regulations, keep a homeless child or youth in the school of origin except when doing so is contrary to the wishes of the child’s or youth’s parent or guardian. Further, the District will review and revise policies and practices, including transportation guidelines as well as those related to outstanding fees, fines, or absences, which may act as barriers to the enrollment, attendance, school success, and retention of homeless children and youth in the District.

Transportation

In order to ensure immediate enrollment, and so as not to create barriers to the attendance, retention, and success of homeless students, transportation must be promptly provided. If the local social service district or the Office of Children and Family Services is not required to provide transportation, the designated district is responsible for the provision and the cost of the student’s transportation through the remainder of the school year in which the homeless student becomes permanently housed.

Where a homeless student designates the school district of current location as the district the student will attend, then that district will provide transportation to the student on the same basis as a resident student. Where the homeless student designates the school district of origin, then that district must provide transportation to and from the homeless child’s temporary housing and school not to exceed 50 miles each way unless the Commissioner certifies that the transportation is in the best interests of the child.

Transportation is required even if the school of origin is located in another local educational agency (LEA) as long as attendance at the school of origin is in the best interest of the child or youth, even if it requires students to cross district lines. If two school districts are involved, the districts must agree on a method to apportion the cost and responsibility of transportation, or they must split it equally.

Transportation responsibilities apply to all school districts regardless of whether or not they receive McKinney-Vento funds. Transportation must be provided pending final resolution of any enrollment disputes, including any available appeals. If the designated district provides transportation for non-homeless preschool children, it must also provide comparable transportation services for homeless preschool children.

District Liaison for Homeless Children and Youth

The District will designate an appropriate staff person, who may also be a coordinator for other federal programs, as the local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youth to carry out the duties as described in law, Commissioner’s regulations, and applicable guidance issued by the U.S. and New York State Education Departments. The District will inform school personnel, local service providers, and advocates of the office and duties of the local homeless liaison.

Training

All school enrollment staff, secretaries, school counselors, school social workers, and principals will be trained on the requirements for enrollment of homeless students. Other staff members including school nutrition staff, school registered professional nurses, teachers, and bus drivers will receive training on homelessness that is specific to their field.

Outreach

The District will make every effort to inform the parents or guardians of homeless children and youth of the education, transportation, and related opportunities available to their children including transportation to the school of origin. The parent(s) or guardian(s) will be assisted in accessing transportation to the school they select, and will be provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children.

Dispute Resolution

The District will establish procedures for the prompt resolution of disputes regarding school selection or enrollment of a homeless child or youth and provide a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal to the parent or guardian if the District sends the student to a school other than the school of origin or the school requested by the parent or guardian. These disputes will include, but are not limited to, disputes regarding transportation and/or a child’s or youth’s status as a homeless child or unaccompanied youth.

In the event of a dispute regarding eligibility, school selection, or enrollment, the homeless child or youth will be entitled to immediate or continued enrollment and transportation pending final resolution of the dispute, including all available appeals.

Dispute Resolution Procedure (Added to draft on 4/3/2018):

If a family or student in temporary housing and their school district disagree about a student’s McKinney-Vento eligibility for enrollment, school selection options, or transportation, the school district may challenge the student’s eligibility under McKinney-Vento. To do so, the district will provide:

  • Written notice to the student or family about the reasons for their disagreement;
  • Complete information in writing about the right to appeal to the family or youth;
  • Put the family or youth in touch with the McKinney-Vento liaison for assistance;
  • Provide immediate enrollment and transportation while the appeal is pending and until all available appeals are final.
    Record and Reporting Requirements

If the District, as the school district of origin, receives a request to forward student records to a receiving district, the records must be forwarded within five days of receipt of the request.

The District will maintain documentation regarding all aspects of the District’s contact with and services provided to homeless students and youth for possible on-site monitoring by the State Education Department.

The District will collect and transmit to the Commissioner of Education, at such time and in the manner as the Commissioner may require, a report containing information as the Commissioner determines is necessary to assess the educational needs of homeless children and youths within the state.

Student Privacy

Any information pertaining to the living situation of a homeless student, such as his or her homeless status or temporary address, is considered a student educational record and is not subject to disclosure as directory information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

5. Foster Children
Children placed in a family home at board located within the District by either a social services district, a State department or agency, or a court shall be entitled to attend the public schools of the District in accordance with applicable law.

The federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act [P.L. 110-351]

(“Fostering Connections”) has important provisions that promote educational stability for children in foster care. In particular, it requires that child welfare agencies to collaborate with school districts to ensure that children in foster care can stay in their same school unless the child welfare agency determines that it is not in the best interests of the child to remain in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of foster care placement or any subsequent change in foster care placement.

Procedure:

  1. Child welfare agency will contact district point of contact (POC)
  2. POC and agency will designate the school district of origin, and the district will provide transportation to and from the foster child’s placement and school not to exceed 50 miles each way unless the Commissioner certifies that the transportation is in the best interests of the child
  3. Overall cost of transportation cannot be the deciding factor for what is in the best interest of the student. The district will work and come to an agreement of overall transportation costs.

6. Children Residing in Facilities for the Intellectually Disabled

(a) Children who (i) reside in a school for the mentally retarded operated by the Office of Mental Hygiene or the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, (ii) whose support and maintenance responsibilities have been assumed by the Department or the Office
and ( iii) who are placed in a family home at board, a duly incorporated orphan asylum, or another institution for the care, custody, and treatment of children located within the District shall be entitled to attend the public schools of the District in accordance with applicable law.

(b) Children who reside in an intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded located within the District, other than a State-operated school for the mentally retarded, shall be admitted to the public schools of the District for instruction and the provision of necessary related services in accordance with applicable law, unless the Board can establish to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Education that there are valid and sufficient reasons for refusing to receive such children.

7. Information Not Requested By District
The District may not request as a condition of enrollment the student’s Social Security card or number and it may not request any information which would tend to reveal the immigration status of the child, the child’s parent(s) or person(s) in parental relation, including but not limited to information concerning visas, or other documentation concerning immigrant status. The District may request such information only for limited and targeted post-enrollment inquiries, such as collecting necessary data for procuring funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (“ESEA”), Title III of ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and N.Y. Educ. Law §3218 and §100.2(y) of the Commissioner’s Regulations as amended effective December 16, 2014. The District may not require submission of a judicial custody order or an order of guardianship as a condition of enrollment.

C. Nonresident Student

  • Admission -Except as otherwise set forth in this policy, nonresident students shall not be permitted to attend the public schools of the District
  • Special Education Programs –The Superintendent shall have discretion to accept nonresident students for enrollment in special education programs offered by the District which are not available in the students’ home district provided tuition at the then current rate is paid by, or on behalf of, each student, no increase in the size of faculty or staff will be necessary to accommodate the students, and the building principal determines at the time of acceptance that no program on the entry level will contain more than the desired number of students.
  • Foreign Exchange Students –The Superintendent shall have discretion to admit a limited number of foreign students participating in an established foreign exchange student program in which American students spend all or a portion of a school year in foreign schools and foreign students spend all or a portion of a school year in American schools. 
  • The school district has the authority to limit the foreign exchange programs with which it chooses to de business.
  • The school district has the authority to limit the number of foreign exchange students it will admit.
  • Other factors that might be considered:
  • No additional staffing is needed;
  • A proper educational program exists;
  • No displacement of resident students will occur; and
  • Failure to abide by the Code of Conduct can result in loss of the privilege to attend the schools.

d. Application for attendance must be made prior to committing to the student’s participation and arrival in the United States.

4. Seniors
Any resident student who has completed the junior year and commenced the senior year at a District school and who thereafter becomes a nonresident shall be permitted to complete the senior year in that District school tuition-free. In this instance, the District shall not be obligated to provide transportation for the student.

5. Binding Agreements
Any nonresident student who is eligible to attend the public schools of the District pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or other similarly negotiated agreement by which the District is bound shall, upon request, be admitted by the Superintendent upon the terms and conditions set forth in such agreement.

D. Nonresident Tuition

1. Tuition Charges

Tuition for nonresident students shall be set annually by the Board, shall be fixed in an amount which represents the additional operating cost to the District resulting from the attendance of nonresident students, and shall be computed in accordance with guidelines established by the Commissioner of Education.

Payment

Tuition for nonresident students shall be payable in advance for each succeeding semester. Upon approval by the Superintendent or a designee, tuition may also be paid in monthly installments in advance for each succeeding month. In the event that any payment of tuition is not received by the District within thirty (30) days of the date due, the student shall be excluded from attendance at the District’s schools.

Administrative Guidelines

The Superintendent or a designee shall determine in each case whether a student is entitled to attend the schools of the District pursuant to this policy. Prior to any such determination, the student or the student’s parent or Person in Parental Relation, as appropriate, shall be afforded the opportunity to submit additional information concerning the student’s right to attend school in the District. Upon a determination that a child is not entitled to attend the District’s schools, the Superintendent or a designee shall, within two business days, provide written notice of such determination to the student or the student’s parent or Person in Parental Relation, as appropriate, stating:

  1. That the student is not entitled to attend the public schools of the District;
  2. The specific basis for the determination that the child is not a resident of the School District, including but not limited to a description of the documentary or other evidence upon which such determination is based;
  3. The date as of which the student will be excluded from the schools of the District; and
  4. That the determination may be appealed to the Commissioner of Education in accordance with Education Law Section 310, within thirty days of the date of the determination, and that the instructions, forms and procedures for taking such an appeal, including translated versions of such instructions, forms and procedures for taking such an appeal may be obtained from the Office of Counsel, at www.counsel.nysed.gov, or by mail addressed to the Office of Counsel, New York State Education Department, State Education Building, Albany, New York 12234 or by calling (518)474-8927.

Review and Amendment

This policy shall be reviewed and amended by the Board as required by any changes in the law or changes necessitated by the needs of the children residing in the District.

Presentation: 4/18/18
First Vote: 5/2/18
Second Vote: 5/16/18