Residency and School Attendance

Originally appeared in the CAS Weekly Newsletter.
Written by attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

Dear Legal Mailbag:

I understand that we can no longer make referrals to the juvenile courts for truancy, and I have a simple question – now what? The problem of student truancy didn’t just go away, and now the courts won’t help us.

As you know, these days we are being told to call almost everything in to DCF, and I remember that the law refers to “neglect” as well as “abuse.” The way I see it, if a parent is not making sure that his or her child is attending school, that’s “educational neglect.” Next time I have one of those students who are out of school for days and days without good excuse, I will just call DCF and let them deal with it. Does that sound good to you?

Thank you,
I’m Calling It In


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On September 28, 2017, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner of Education Dr. Dianna R. Wentzell issued a joint memorandum  to Connecticut superintendents of public schools outlining local educational agency (“LEA”) obligations to homeless youth displaced by natural disasters. It is anticipated that many school-age students will seek refuge in Connecticut in light of the devastation rendered in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. Public school districts are uniquely poised to supply a degree of normalcy to such students through educational opportunities and referrals to other services.

Under Subtitle VII-B of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11431-11435, (the “Act”), children and youth in homeless situations are afforded certain educational protections. Under the Act, “homeless children and youth” include individuals who “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” and often includes those students displaced by disasters, including those students staying in accommodations set up by relief and community agencies. Such students displaced by disasters generally meet the Act’s definition and, as noted in the joint memorandum, such students will also qualify for free school meals, as well as health and other related services.


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Students in ClassroomOn January 30, 2017, the Connecticut State Department of Education (“CSDE”) released a memorandum titled, “Guidance for Districts Regarding Refugee Students,” in response to an Executive Order signed on January 27, 2017, restricting immigration into the United States.  The CSDE memorandum reaffirmed the obligation of public schools to provide children with an education regardless of their race, color, national origin, citizenship, immigration status, or the status of their parents.
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