District Leadership Checklist for Supporting the Unique Needs of Students in Foster Care, Experiencing Homelessness or in the Juvenile Justice System

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This is a tool for local education agency leadership to support planning and monitoring for students that are experiencing homelessness, in foster care or involved with the juvenile justice system (together, “students with unique needs”).

Students with unique needs are entitled under California and federal law to certain protections and rights in the context of their education. For example:

  • All three student groups have rights related to school stability including the right to remain in their school of origin (SOO), a Best Interest Determination (BID) to determine school placement, immediate enrollment and transportation to SOO;
  • All three student subgroups are eligible for an exemption from local graduation requirements and can enroll in a 5th year of high school;
  • Students in foster care generate supplemental and concentration funding for districts through the Local Control Funding Formula, and accordingly districts’ investment of those funds should be principally directed toward and effective in serving that subgroup.

The above and other legal protections all help improve opportunities for these students to succeed in school. However, this improvement can only happen if district leadership develops thoughtful, equity-focused strategies, planning and policies.