FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2015
ED LAW CENTER FILES FEDERAL COURT COMPLAINT ASSERTING THE RIGHT OF HOMELESS STUDENT PLACED IN SHELTER SCHOOL TO ATTEND LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL
PENNSYLVANIA – The Education Law Center (ELC) announced today that it has filed a federal complaint on behalf of C.T., an 8th-grade honor student who was placed in a shelter on an emergency basis while awaiting foster care placement and who qualifies as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
The complaint asserts that New Castle Area School District, where C.T. was placed in the Krause Youth Shelter, has a policy or practice of denying students placed in that shelter access to its local public schools, despite its clear duty to enroll these students under federal and state law. As a result, C.T., and other children similarly situated, are forced to languish in a shelter school program.
C.T., who has been in the shelter school since the beginning of April, has received homework assignments and tests from his prior school district but was unable to complete them without academic instruction. According to the complaint, the shelter program provides only three hours of education a day and is staffed by a teacher certified in grades K-6 only. ELC also notes that the shelter school is unlicensed and unmonitored by any state or local education agency.
“This is precisely what the McKinney-Vento Act was designed to prevent,” said Senior Staff Attorney Maura McInerney of the Education Law Center.
“That law requires districts to ensure immediate and equal access to local public schools and expressly prohibits the segregation of students based on their homelessness status. ELC is asking the court to direct the New Castle Area School District to implement its clear duty to treat these students in the same manner as children living in their district with permanent residences.”
In addition to the McKinney-Vento Act, which mandates school stability or immediate enrollment in the local public school for children experiencing homelessness, Pennsylvania state law also ensures that children living in residential settings, including shelters, are entitled to enroll in local public schools where the facilities are located.
“This is not an isolated case. Our offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have handled matters in other school districts where this is happening and we are working to eliminate this illegal practice across the Commonwealth so that students like C.T. do not lose ground and fall behind,” said McInerney.
The Education Law Center-PA works to ensure that all children in Pennsylvania have access to a quality public education, including children living in poverty, children of color, children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, children with disabilities, English language learners, and children experiencing homelessness. For more information, visit www.elc-pa.org or follow @edlawcenterpa on Twitter.
Education Law Center – Philadelphia
1315 Walnut Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Nancy A. Hubley
Education Law Center – Pittsburgh
429 Fourth Ave, Suite 702
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412-258-2120 ext. 350