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Q11. Who is responsible for providing transportation to the youth's school of origin?
AB 490 does not directly state who is responsible for providing transportation to a child's school of origin. Rather, the law states that meeting the needs of the child is a collective effort. Education Code § 48850 says, "In fulfilling their responsibilities to these pupils, educators, county placing agencies, care providers, advocates, and the juvenile courts shall work together to maintain stable school placements…" Further, Education Code § 48853.5(d)(6) states "the local educational agency and the county placing agency are encouraged to collaborate to ensure maximum utilization of available federal moneys, explore public-private partnerships, and access any other funding to promote the well-being of foster children through educational stability."
REMEMBER though that the school district may be specifically responsible for transportation if the youth is considered homeless under the federal McKinney-Vento law or qualifies for special education. McKinney-Vento requires that school districts provide transportation to a homeless student's school of origin.
42 U.S.C.§ 11432 (g)(4). McKinney-Vento defines homelessness as when children and youth are "awaiting foster care placement." Thus, in some cases, foster youth will be covered by both AB 490 and McKinney-Vento. If the youth is covered by McKinney-Vento, the school district must provide transportation to his school of origin.
If the youth is disabled and receives special education services pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school district may also be responsible for providing transportation. If appropriate, transportation issues should be addressed at the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, and written into the IEP.
Q12. Is it true that the child welfare agency has no input into whether it is in the child's best interest to remain in her school of origin?
It is true that AB 490 does not directly spell out the child welfare agency's role in determining whether a child should continue in her school or origin. However, that does not mean that the law does not otherwise provide for their participation. The child welfare agency has control over where the child lives in the first place. When a placing agency decides the most appropriate place for a child to live, the law requires them to consider the placement's
proximity to the child's present school and the impact that the placement would have on the
child's educational stability.
WIC § 16501.1(c). In addition, Education Code §48850(a) requires placing agencies to collaborate with other parties in order to maintain stable school placements. The placing agencies, such as child welfare agencies, therefore have a significant role in ensuring that a child is provided with educational stability.
Q13. What recourse do attorneys or case workers have if they disagree with the educational placement decision made by the person holding educational rights, the child, and the liaison?
Placement and education moves should be a coordinated and planned effort. The only recourse in this situation is to petition the juvenile court to change the educational decision maker. If the educational decision maker is the parent, the court may limit the parent's educational rights and appoint a Responsible Adult to make educational decisions.
WIC §§ 361 or 726. A limitation on the parent's right to make educational decisions will only be granted to the extent needed to protect the child. If the attorney or social worker disagrees with the decision of the Responsible Adult, the attorney and/or social worker may petition the court to transfer the educational rights to another individual.
Q14. When the district liaison, person with educational rights, and youth all agree that a child should stay in her school of origin, can the district of origin require the youth to complete interdistrict transfer paperwork (as if they came from the new school of residence)?
No. Education Code § 48853.5 (d)(1) states that the school district "serving the foster child shall allow the foster child to continue his or her education in the school of origin for the duration of the academic school year," when the foster youth is moved out of the district due to an "initial detention or placement, or any subsequent change in placement." Thus, a foster youth who moves out of the school's district of residence should be treated as if they still reside in the district for the remainder of the school year.
Interdistrict transfers, on the other hand, are appropriate in situations where a student who is not a resident of the district desires to attend one of the district's schools. Students who remain in their schools of origin when they are covered by AB 490 or McKinney-Vento cannot be required to complete interdistrict transfer paperwork.
Q15. If a foster child experiences a change of placement during the summer, but would like to attend his or her school of origin in the fall, does AB 490 give her this right?
The school of origin provision requires a district to "allow the foster child to continue his or her education in the school of origin for the duration of the academic school year."
EC § 48853.5 (d)(1). Thus, if a child is moved in the summer and the academic year has been completed, the district is not required to allow the child to return in the fall. However, if remaining in the school of origin would be beneficial for the child's education, a school district can always use discretion to allow this.
Q16. How can schools allow foster youth to enroll without immunization records? Won't this jeopardize the health of other students?
Education Code § 48853.5 states that when foster youth change schools, the new school
must immediately enroll them, even if they are missing the records and documents normally required for enrollment, including immunization records. If foster youth are missing immunization records, it is generally because no one is able to find the records, not because the youth have not been immunized. Foster youth move frequently, and their records often fail to move with them. However, foster youth receive frequent medical check-ups, and in most cases, it is more likely that they have been over-immunized than that they failed to receive the immunizations at all.
Also, it is important to remember that immunizations protect the child who is immunized, not other students. Thus, if a youth enrolls without immunizations, it is that youth who is at risk, not other students who are presumably immunized.
Education Code § 48853.5 seeks to eliminate the amount of time that foster youth spend out of school due to missing records. It is important to remember that even if a school is required to immediately enroll youth without first receiving immunization records, the school is still entitled to work with the previous school and the county agency to locate the records. The school is only prohibited from delaying enrollment.
Q17. How does the automatic enrollment provision apply to children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that require a specific placement?
The school where the child is placed is responsible for implementing the IEP until the child is enrolled in a new school. If the transition process is managed properly (taking education into consideration in making placements, consulting with the parent or individual with education rights, giving advance notice of a change in placement, etc.), this should not be a common problem. If a child has such particular needs that the placement and/or service providers are specified, then educational planning is likely to be very important (for more reasons that just figuring out how to implement the IEP). Further, state law requires that the new school district
immediately provide an interim placement in conformity with the last IEP and hold an IEP Meeting within 30 days of the transfer into the new school district to ensure the child's needs are being met.
EC § 56325.
Q18. If a student has an expired IEP, must they be immediately enrolled? Can the school district postpone enrollment until an IEP can be held?
Even if the student is no longer covered by an IEP or is awaiting a new IEP, the school cannot delay enrollment of a foster child under AB 490.
EC § 48853.5 (d)(4)(B). Furthermore, state law requires that the new school district
immediately provide an interim placement in conformity with the last IEP and hold an IEP Meeting within 30 days of the transfer into the new school district in order to ensure the child's needs are being met.
EC § 56325.
Q19. Are schools allowed to require a birth certificate before enrollment?
No. Education Code § 48853.5 states that when foster youth change schools, the new school must immediately enroll them, even if they are missing the records and documents normally required for enrollment, which includes birth certificates. The school is still entitled to work with the previous school and the county agency to locate the records, but it can not delay the youth's enrollment.
Q20. Some schools have requirements that students successfully complete a certain number of credits before they can participate in certain extra curricular activities; can schools apply these requirements to foster children?
Yes.The purpose of AB 490 is to remove barriers that foster children face. However, the schools are still allowed to apply the same rules for eligibility to participate in extra curricular activities to foster children as they do for children who are living with their birth parents.