E-Alerts & Press Releases

Successful enforcement of homeless children's right to education in Prince George's County

September 7, 2004: Recent events in the Public Justice Center's class action Collier v. Prince George's County Board of Education illustrate the importance and efficacy of enforcement after a legal victory. In September 2001, the Public Justice Center won a comprehensive Consent Decree to enforce the rights of homeless children and youth to be enrolled in and transported to Prince George's County public schools. Since then, we have continued to monitor the extent to which PGCPS complies with the McKinney-Vento Act and the terms of a Consent Decree.

After a disastrous start of the school year in 2003, when hundreds of homeless children waited days and weeks for transportation to be set up, the PJC strongly urged PGCPS officials to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to ensure that all homeless children would be provided transportation on the first day of school on August 23, 2004. When no such plan had been produced by August 5, 2004, PJC staff attorney Laurie Norris decided that time had run out, and she asked the Court to intervene. Federal District Court Judge Deborah Chasanow scheduled a status conference for August 11, 2004. This apparently finally prompted PGCPS officials to forumlate a plan, which was outlined to the Court at the status conference by the school board's attorney. The plan involved an intensive application of resources over short period of time to contact homeless families and arrange transportation. It also involved a modification of policy to simplify the paperwork process.

We learned at a follow-up status conference on September 3, 2004 that the plan was a success. As of August 31, 2004:

358 homeless students had requested transportation services. Of these:

  • 187 had been placed on regular school buses
  • 142 had been placed on Family Assistance buses
  • 21 had been placed with the private contractor, Exquisite
  • 8 were walkers

Zero were awaiting transportation!

This is a huge victory for these hundreds of children who otherwise would not have been able to start school with their peers, and would have experienced yet another set-back in their struggle for stability and access to education.

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