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In September 2017, ISBE released a guidance document regarding the dispute resolution process to be used by school districts, parents, and students when a disagreement arises as to a student’s homeless status. That was the first time a definitive guidance document regarding the full scope of the homeless dispute resolution process was made available by ISBE. In November 2017, ISBE issued an updated Homeless Dispute Resolution Procedures document.

The rights of homeless students are governed by federal and state law and policy, including the federal McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 11301 et seq.), the Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act (105 ILCS 45/1-1 et seq.), ISBE’s State Plan for Homeless Education, and ISBE’s Policy on the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. The updated ISBE guidance document brings together all requirements for the homeless dispute process into one document.

School districts are to immediately enroll a homeless student and arrange for transportation and other services as appropriate. If a dispute arises as to the enrollment of a homeless student or a student’s homeless status, the student is to remain enrolled, with transportation and the continuation of all services and programs, while the dispute resolution process is pending, including any appeal.

The updated ISBE guidance document includes an overview of the homeless dispute resolution process and detailed sections on the procedures for prior to, during, and after the dispute resolution meeting.

  • The pre-meeting procedures provide direction on school district investigatory practices, notification requirements if formal dispute resolution proceedings are initiated, the appointment and role of the ombudsperson by the Regional Superintendent of Schools, and reciprocal requests and disclosure of documentation by the parties prior to the dispute resolution meeting.
  • The meeting procedures provide a framework for the dispute resolution meeting, including scheduling, the presentation of evidence and testimony, and conduct of the parties.
  • The post-meeting procedures set forth the process for the ombudsperson to prepare and issue his/her determination, including the required components of the determination and to whom and the methods by which the determination must be sent.
  • The appeal procedures summarize the process and timelines for appealing the ombudsperson’s determination to the State Coordinator, who makes a recommendation to the State Superintendent of Education, who then issues a final decision.

See the ISBE Homeless Dispute Resolution Procedures for more detailed information about each stage of the homeless dispute resolution process. Additional information regarding the dispute resolution procedures and generally about the rights of and education for homeless students can be found on ISBE’s website for Climate & Culture: Homeless Education.

Please contact Jennifer Mueller with questions regarding homeless students.