Educational Rights of Minors in New York State

The New York State Education Department recently issued guidance to all school districts regarding their obligation to enroll unaccompanied immigrant youth. The guidance can be found HERE.

According to this guidance, school districts should immediately enroll unaccompanied immigrant youth while the districts determine the students’ eligibility under the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law that sets out the educational rights of students experiencing homelessness. McKinney-Vento eligible youth are entitled to immediate enrollment in school even if they don’t have the documents normally needed for enrollment, including educational records, proof of custody or guardianship, proof of immunization, etc. McKinney-Vento determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. The following are examples of situations in which youth have been found eligible under the McKinney-Vento Act:

· An unaccompanied immigrant youth is released to sponsor who is not a parent, the sponsor does not have or intend to seek legal custody or guardianship; and the youth was forced to leave home because of poverty or violence in the child’s home country (i.e. constructive loss of housing)

· An unaccompanied immigrant youth has been released to a sponsor (parent, relative, family friend) who is living in doubled-up situation due to loss of housing or economic hardship, and the youth is living with sponsor in that temporary housing arrangement.

For more information about the educational rights of students in temporary housing, please:

· Call NYS-TEACHS hotline at 800-388-2014 (hotline staff speak English and Spanish and can access an interpreter for other languages) or

· Visit

There are several more resources that further discuss the educational rights of unaccompanied immigrant students which can be found at the links below:

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)

U.S. Department of Education issued several documents outlining the obligations of school districts to enroll immigrant students and not discriminate against such students:

Educational Services for Immigrant Children and Those Recently Arrived in the United States

NYS Education Department issued another guidance in 2010 outlining the obligation of districts to enroll immigrant students available HERE.

Spanish Resources:

Advocates for Children Enrollment Form

English Language Learner Program options

Know Your Rights Guide