Storm Preparation and Supporting Potentially Homeless Students
News reports indicate that a large number of our districts could be impacted by Hurricane Dorian. Damaging winds, structural damage, flooding and storm damage may occur. Because of the potential threat to North Carolina, I would like to remind you of the immediate requirements in identifying and serving homeless students in our schools as well as resources that are available for working with students, families and the community after a natural disaster occurs.
Please keep in mind that a child who is displaced after a natural disaster, including those students and their families who have temporarily relocated to North Carolina, will generally meet the definition of “homeless” under the federal McKinney-Vento Act. The law entitles them to immediate enrollment in the school district in which they are physically present without having to document residency in the district. In addition, those students who are identified are also eligible for free meals.
As the homeless liaison, remember that you are required to document all students experiencing homelessness in PowerSchool, and in addition, maintain a list using the “LEA Disaster Tracking Log” of those students that are specifically displaced because of the natural disaster. This list is to be shared with your Superintendents, School Nutrition Administrators, and other Administration, as appropriate. You will also need to maintain the list in your McKinney-Vento records for future requests from my office.
School Nutrition Services encourages the homeless liaisons to reach out directly to their School Nutrition Directors at the local level to discuss the individual or collective needs or homeless students. The website that includes the local contacts is located at: https://childnutrition.ncpublicschools.gov/who-we-are/sfa_directories/school-food-authority-sfa-directories . If you have additional questions or challenges, please call the School Nutrition Services office at (919 807-3506) or the State Coordinator for Homeless Education at 336-315-7491.
The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) has a comprehensive web page devoted to “Disaster Preparation and Response”. There, you will find NCHE resources; federal resources; sample forms, materials and policies; resources for coping with a disaster, as well as other resources. Additionally, SchoolHouse Connection has released the brief, “Supporting Children and Youth Displaced by Disasters: Five Key Policies for Schools”.
Finally, please reach out to our office for any additional questions or supports you may need before or after the storm. We are here to assist you in any way.