If you or your child are homeless and a dispute about enrollment, transportation or other services arises with the school, the district must follow the dispute resolution protocol issued by the Illinois State Board of Education.
1. The homeless liaison will get involved
As soon as a dispute arises, the school district homeless liaison should become involved and provide you or your child with information about the dispute resolution process.
The district must immediately enroll you or your child in the school in which you seek enrollment and arrange for transportation and other services. You or your child are allowed to stay enrolled in that school until final resolution of the dispute.
2. The district will send you information
The district then must send a letter to you or your child explaining in detail the district’s position. This letter must also include referrals for free or reduced-cost legal help and outline the dispute procedure.
The regional superintendent of schools will appoint a fair and impartial ombudsperson to oversee the dispute resolution meeting. This person will be familiar with the educational rights of homeless students. The ombudsperson will schedule the dispute resolution meeting with you or your child and the district.
At the dispute resolution meeting, you or your child have the right to be represented by an attorney, to present evidence, and to call witnesses. The following are some tips for a dispute resolution meeting:
- Before the hearing, request the student’s complete record from the district, including investigatory material
- Bring witnesses who can prove that you or your child is in a homeless situation and know where the student or family is residing. For example, neighbors who have seen you or your child at the address or the family or friends that own the home where you or your child is doubled-up
- If a witness cannot come to the hearing bring a written statement from them (an affidavit is best)
- If you suffered a loss of housing due to eviction or foreclosure, bring paperwork as evidence
- Bring bank statements, public benefit award letters, payroll stubs, or tax returns to show economic hardship
3. Wait for a decision and appeal if necessary
After the dispute resolution meeting, the Ombudsperson will issue a decision in writing. You or your child can appeal the Ombudsman’s decision to the State Coordinator of the Illinois State Board of Education in writing within 5 days of receiving the ombudsman’s decision. The State Coordinator will review the decision for compliance with applicable law.