Sydnee' DeBusk, Homeless Education Program Coordinator
Amber Keller, Assistant to the Homeless Education Coordinator
Phone (423) 434-5226
Johnson City Schools
100 E. Maple Street
Johnson City, Tennessee 37601
Johnson City Schools provides a Homeless Education Program for students who qualify for assistance under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Title IX, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The act states that a child or youth is considered homeless if he or she lacks "a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence."
Homeless children are those who...
-Temporarily live with relatives or friends because they have nowhere else to go (typically due to a loss of housing or economic hardship). This is referred to as living "doubled up."
-Live in shelters such as SAFE House, Haven of Mercy, and Family Promise.
-Live in motels, abandoned buildings, cars, tents or on the streets.
-Run away or are thrown out of their parent's home (Unaccompanied Youth).
-Live in housing not fit for habitation (i.e. the lack of electricity or water for an extended period of time).
The "Right" Act - ESSA Title IX
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act states that homeless children and youth must have access to the same free, appropriate public education provided to all other children, including preschool education. Homeless children are guaranteed certain legal rights to ensure this. They have a right to…
-Stay in their school of origin (the school they attended before becoming homeless—this includes preschools) for the remainder of the school year or for the duration of their homelessness as long as it is in the student’s best interest. The school of origin right also extends to the designated receiving school at the next grade level when the student completes the final grade level served by the school of origin.
-Immediately enroll in a new school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records or other “required” paperwork—this includes unaccompanied youth (those who do not have a legal guardian present). The term “enroll” means attending classes and participating fully in school activities. This is the case even if a school questions a student’s homeless status, in which event the dispute resolution process must be followed and the student allowed to enroll/stay in that school pending resolution.
-Receive transportation assistance to and from the school of origin, including until the end of the year when the student obtains permanent housing, at the parent’s, guardian’s, or liaison’s request for unaccompanied youth
-Enroll in preschool programs
-Have access to services available to all children—including, but not limited to, school meals, before & after-school programs, and special education services.
Right to dispute eligibility, enrollment, or education placement
-The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act guarantees rights and services for homeless children and youth to remove educational barriers. The law requires states and school districts to follow a dispute resolution process when parents, guardians, or unaccompanied youth and schools disagree on the eligibility, enrollment, or educational placement of homeless children and youth. The dispute resolution process is intended to represent each party’s views for objective consideration so that disagreements can be brought to closure expeditiously, and the department has developed a dispute resolution process as required by the act.
-Prompt resolution of disputes regarding the educational placement of homeless children and youth is critical. When a dispute arises over eligibility, school selection, or enrollment, the child or unaccompanied youth shall be immediately admitted to the school in which enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute. The State’s dispute resolution process can be accessed here.
Since the beginning of Johnson City Schools Homeless Education Program, Johnson City Schools has had an increasing number of students who fit the homeless criteria as established by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the Tennessee State Plan. The following are some services offered by the JCS Homeless Education Program:
Expedite school enrollment and assist with the transfer of school records
Arrange tutoring, enrichment activities and transportation as needed
Provide essential school supplies and clothing needed for a specific class
Act as a referral source and coordinate services between the schools and agencies to meet the students' various needs, as well as the needs of their families
Provide information to parents and unaccompanied youth regarding their children's education rights as homeless individuals and the resources available to them
Last Updated: April 28, 2021