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(SIT) Resources and Links


Learn about homelessness, children’s rights, and how to get in touch with liaisons at all Santa Cruz County school districts.

Dr. Faris Sabbah
Dr. Faris Sabbah
Michael Paynter
Director, Student Support Services
(831) 466-5729
Nohemi Macias
Senior Community Organizer
(831) 466-5710


The federal government’s legal definition of homelessness based on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act is anyone who

  • lacks a regular, fixed and adequate nighttime residence (substandard housing).
  • is sharing housing due to economic struggles (double-up).
  • is living in a shelter, hotel or motel.
  • is living in a public place not designated for sleeping (cars, parks).
  • is an unaccompanied youth.
  • is a child or youth awaiting foster care placement.
  • is a child or youth abandoned in a hospital.
  • is a migrant child who qualifies under any of the above


Your preschool and school-aged children have the following rights or protections under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act:

  • Go to school, no matter where you live or how long you have lived there.
  • Continue in the school they attended before you became homeless or the last one they attended.
  • Receive transportation to school and to school programs.
  • Attend a school and participate in school programs.
  • Attend a school and participate with children who are not homeless.
  • Enroll without giving a permanent address.
  • Enroll and attend classes while the school arranges for the transfer of required school records or documents.
  • Enroll and attend classes even while the school and you seek to resolve a dispute over enrollment.

Educational Needs

Academic Achievement
Congress has specified that students in homeless situations should have access to the education they need to ensure that they have opportunities to meet the same challenging state academic achievement standards to which all students are held.

The Effects of Homelessness
Families experiencing homelessness are in a state of transition and crisis, affecting all aspects of the children’s lives. Students may find it difficult to get to school on time, and may be hungry, sleepy, unprepared, as well as show emotional behaviors at school. Important school and medical records may have been lost in the transition. Homework may be incomplete because the family is attending to the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. Students may sleep in class because they have been trying to sleep in a car or noisy room with many others. Students may also behave emotionally, as they sort through their emotions (anger, fear, mistrust, depression) associated with homelessness.

Tutoring & Homework Help
Homework may not be a priority for homeless families this is why help is available through our program. We hire UCSC students as tutors. The tutoring sessions are held in the child’s school along with his/her teacher as a supervisor. Please contact Nohemi Macias for more information (831)477-5422.

Identifying students that are homeless
Parents, schools, and shelters must work together to ensure homeless students are identified and assisted by school personnel. Parents and students often feel uncomfortable telling others that they are homeless, but this is important for schools to know.

Educational Rights

Homeless Liaison
Federal legislation requires school districts to select a homeless liaison to ensure students in homeless situations are identified, enrolled and assisted in receiving educational services, and have transportation to and from school. Homeless Liaisons are also required to assist unaccompanied youth select and enroll in school.

School Selection
Students have the right to stay in their “school of origin” for the duration of their homelessness and until the end of the academic year in which they move into permanent housing. This selection is at the request of the parent or unaccompanied youth. A school of origin is defined as the school that the child attended when permanently housed or the school in which the child was last enrolled.

Parents or guardians of students in homeless situations can keep their children in the schools of origin or enroll them in any public school that students living in the same attendance area are eligible to attend. Enrollment includes participating fully in school activities. Students have the right to enroll in school immediately, even if they do not have the required documents: school records, birth certificate, medical and immunization records, or proof of residency.

Free school meals
Homeless students are eligible for free meals at school. Documentation may be submitted by the parent, homeless liaison, or shelter representative.

Homeless students must be provided with transportation to and from their school of origin at parent or guardian request. Transportation services include crossing district boundaries or providing special education bussing. If the student transportation needs cross district boundaries, the two districts must determine how to divide the responsibility and cost, or share it equally.

We offer subsidized and free public bus passes for students who qualify. For more information you may contact your district liaison (see table below) or call Nohemi Macias at 831.477.5422.

Special Programs
Students should also receive the same special programs and services as provided to other children, including GATE, special education, migrant education, and vocational education.

Homeless youth have the right to receive the same public education that all youth enjoy, including the right to attend public preschool.

Dispute Resolution
Whenever there is a disagreement, the school must immediately enroll and transport the student, as the parent wishes, until the dispute is resolved. The Homeless Liaison from the school, district or county mediates disputes between schools and families. All resolutions not favoring the family must be documented and hand delivered to the parent.

No Segregation
Law prohibits homeless students or unaccompanied youth from being separated from the mainstream school environment. They cannot be segregated in separate schools, separate programs within schools, or separate settings within schools. The law includes before-, during-, and after-school programs.

Santa Cruz County School District Liaisons for Students in Transition

Swipe left and right to see complete table if necessary
District Name Phone Email
COE Nohemi Macias 831.477.5422 nmacias@santacruzcoe.org
Alternative Education Michael Paynter 831.479.5366 mpaynter@santacruzcoe.org
Independent Schools Al Dixon 831.724.4916 albertdixon3@cs.com
Live Oak Jennifer Ciervo 831.475.6333 x209 jciervo@losd.ca
Pajaro Valley Unified Richard Puente 831.761.6125 richard_puente@pvusd.net
Santa Cruz City Victoria Barrientos 831.429.3410 x217 vbarrientos@sccs.santacruz.k12.ca.us
San Lorenzo Valley Laurie Marcellin 831.336.8852 lmarcell@slv.k12.ca.us
Soquel Elementary Kathleen Howard 831.475.5196 mbevernick@suesd.org
Scotts Valley Penny Weaver 831.438.1820 x105 pweaver@scottsvalleyusd.org
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