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Count shows 420 homeless students in Kent School District

The Kent School District had 420 homeless students in the 2012-13 school year.

The latest numbers were released Thursday by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The state had 30,609 students counted as homeless, an 11.8 percent increase from 2011-12.

Kent's homeless numbers included 100 high school students, 105 in middle school and 215 in elementary school.

Other numbers for neighboring Kent districts include Highline 917, Renton 432, Tukwila 305, Federal Way 297 and Auburn 180 homeless students. Seattle had 2,370 homeless students.

The federal McKinney-Vento Act ensures that homeless children have access to “the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths.”

McKinney-Vento defines a student as homeless if he or she lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The student is classified as homeless if he or she lives in:

• Emergency or transitional shelters

• Motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds

• Shared housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship

• Hospitals secondary to abandonment or awaiting foster care placement

• Cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing or similar situations

• Public or private places not ordinarily used as sleeping accommodations for human beings

Districts are required to annually report their homeless student numbers based on the McKinney-Vento definition.

The law requires that homeless students be given the same access to education as other students and cannot be separated from other students. Where feasible, the student can remain in the district he or she was in before becoming homeless and is provided transportation to and from school.

Washington state receives about $950,000 per year from the federal government to help homeless students. That money is given to districts in the form of competitive grants, with money going to districts with the greatest need.

The money can be used for a variety of activities for homeless students, including: helping to defray the excess cost of transportation; tutoring, instruction and enriched educational services; supplies and materials; and early childhood education programs.

Districts that do not receive McKinney-Vento grant funding can use Title I or other state or federal funding sources to support the educational needs of homeless students.

All districts are required to have a homeless liaison, who is tasked with identifying, enrolling and setting up services for homeless students.

Homeless students statewide

2008-09:  20,780

2009-10:  21,826

2010-11:  26,049

2011-12:  27,390

2012-13:  30,609

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