Students Experiencing Homelessness Have the Right to an Education

Published: April 10, 2018


Are you a student in Washington (preschool through 12th grade) who wonders whether or not you are considered homeless, how you can enroll in and attend school, or what your rights are as an unaccompanied homeless youth? A new Know Your Rights Toolkit is now available to help you advocate for yourself.

The toolkit includes:

  • Step-by-step instructions about what to do and how to follow the chain of command if the school you are attending, or attempting to enroll in, will not give you what you need.
  • Options for solving problems, including potential remedies, the dispute resolution process, and where to get advice or legal representation.
  • Answers to questions like, “I don’t have an address. How can I get my mail?” “Can I be reported to CPS (Child Protective Services) for being homeless?” “What if my classmates tease or bully me for experiencing homelessness?” and “I sometimes feel hopeless and alone. What can I do?”
  • Guidance on how to plan for a career, college, and financial aid as an unaccompanied homeless youth.

All children and youth in the U.S. and Washington have a right to an education, but when they are not made aware of their rights as homeless youth, they may not receive an appropriate education and even find themselves penalized as a result of truancy, which causes barriers rather than access to schools.

Prepared by Columbia Legal Services (CLS) for Schoolhouse Washington (Building Changes’ student homelessness project), the Know Your Rights Toolkit is a valuable resource on the educational rights of school-aged students in Washington who are considered homeless.

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