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Sonoma County Gazette

The Rights of Displaced Students

Oct 23, 2017


The fires have left hundreds of children in Sonoma County without homes. Schools are working diligently to assess which students within their communities are now displaced, but it will take time to know exactly how many students in our community have experienced a loss of housing as the result of the fires. In the meantime, local schools are working hard to ensure educational stability for these students.

The Federal McKinney-Vento Act is intended to provide protections for students experiencing homelessness. Lack of stable housing impacts youth in many ways, including academic continuity and progress. School is a safe
community for youth, where they connect to peers and trusted adults. The goal of this legislation is to ensure school stability for students and remove barriers that could cause them to miss out on educational time. 

McKinney Vento applies to youth who are living in any of the following situations:• sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as doubled-up);

  • living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
  • living in emergency or transitional shelters;
  • abandoned in hospitals
  • Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
  • Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in
    circumstances described above

Students identified as homeless are entitled to education-related support, including:   

  • continued enrollment in the school that they were attending prior to
    becoming homeless, even if they are temporarily housed in a different school district
  • transportation support to get to and from school of origin, if they elect to remain enrolled
  • free-reduced lunch
  • immediate enrollment in the school district in which they are homeless or temporarily housed per one of the categories listed above
  • enrollment even without documents that are typically required

For further information, contact your local school, or the Sonoma County Office of Education (Homeless Youth Education Services Coordinator, Debra Sanders - 707-524-2661, More information is also available at Information in Spanish is available at


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