WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 25, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Represented by Public Justice Center, three homeless families filed a class action lawsuit on September 20 against the Baltimore City Public Schools for failing to provide transportation, school uniforms, and fee waivers for homeless students. Under the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Education Assistance Improvements Act, schools are required to provide these services to homeless students to ensure that their education continues even when their housing is disrupted.
The violations and lawsuit follow years of advocacy by the Public Justice Center and a broad community of organizations who support vulnerable families. In response, the City Schools took steps forward in their efforts to keep kids in school – and to support their success – regardless of whether or not they have a permanent address. In March 2013, City Schools staff proposed to the Chief Executive Officer and Board of School Commissioners a draft policy and implementing regulation governing the rights of homeless students. On May 14, 2013, the Board and CEO approved a final version of the policy that reflected all of the PJC’s recommendations as well as a final version of the regulation that incorporated most of the PJC’s proposed changes.
As school started again in August, however, the PJC heard from many families that these advances were not being implemented. Specifically, we learned of widespread violations of the law including in the areas of transportation, access to uniforms, access to fee waivers, and the provision of information to families about their rights. The lawsuit is intended to focus the City Schools’ attention on addressing these violations.
We applaud the families named as plaintiffs for their courage to stand up for their rights. For more about the case, read this article in the Baltimore Sun.