California’s foster youth change schools at four times the rate of the general student population and attend an average of 9 different schools by the time they turn 18. East Bay Children’s Law Office’s Education Advocacy Program works to reduce the negative impact of these school disruptions on Alameda County foster youth through enforcement of their school stability rights.
Right to an Educational Rights Holder or Educational Surrogate
By default, a student’s parent or legal guardian holds the right to make educational decisions on behalf of the student. If the juvenile court limits the parent or guardian’s right to make educational decisions, another adult known to the child can be appointed as the educational rights holder. When no adult known to the student can be identified, the court can authorize the school district to identify and appoint an educational surrogate to make educational decisions for the student. Students cannot be assessed for or receive special education or related services without the authorization of an education rights holder or surrogate.
Right to Continue at the School of Origin
Foster youth have a right to remain in their school of origin after initial removal from their parent and after every subsequent change
The school district and social services agency are to collaborate to ensure transportation to students asserting their school of origin right. Caretakers may be eligible for education travel reimbursement payments for transporting foster youth to their schools of origin.
Right to Immediate Enrollment
Foster youth have a right to immediate enrollment in their new school of residence. They cannot be denied immediate enrollment even if they have outstanding fees from their prior school or are unable to produce records such as proof of immunization, prior transcripts, or birth certificates.
Right to the Assistance of a Foster Youth Liaison
School districts are required to designate a staff member to assist in the school enrollment and transfer process for foster youth and ensure the appropriate school placement and transfer of records, grades, and credits. After a school transfer, the foster youth liaison from the receiving school has two business days from the enrollment to request records from the sending school. The sending school then has two business days from receipt of the request to send the student’s school records to the new school.
This guide is intended to offer tools to social workers, lawyers, and caregivers to protect foster youth rights and to ensure school stability for students living in foster care.
EBCLO’s Education Advocacy Program provides direct legal representation for our clients in school expulsion and suspension proceedings with the goal of protecting school stability and strengthening school engagement.