School Board Hear Plan on Foster Care Students Education

During the Jan. 30 School Board meeting, one of the agenda items was a first reading for a new policy, regarding the education of children in foster care.
“In our N.H. DOE Review of our Title I Plan for the last school year they found that we should have a separate policy on how we identify and service students in Foster Care as a School System,” Superintendent, Dan Black, wrote in a memo.
He said, “We are mindful and do identify and work with any student that is in the Foster Care system, we have just not had a specific Londonderry School Board Policy.”
“We support what is written from the New Hampshire School Board’s Association in terms of this model policy and believe we are ready to act on it once it is approved by the School Board,” Black said. “We will be in compliance of federal regulations when we do adopt our own Foster Care Policy.”
The policy states in part “It is the Board’s intent to remove barriers to the identification, enrollment, and retention in school of children who are in foster care.”
“All staff shall take reasonable steps to ensure that children in foster care are not segregated or stigmatized and that educational decisions are made in the best interests of those students,” the policy goes on to state.
The policy also outlines different definitions, and discusses “Best Interest Enrollment Determinations, Disputes and Enrollment.”
“Generally, a student in foster care will remain in his/her school of origin, unless there is a determination that it is not in the student’s best interest,” the policy reads. “The Foster Care POC shall assist DCYF or any other child welfare agency and the school of origin/receiving school POC to make a “best interest determination” education decision, particularly the determination of whether or not it is in the best interest of the student in foster care to remain in his/her school of origin or to enroll in a new school.”
“Unless local procedures are established in accordance with state and federal law, the District will use the model procedures prepared jointly by the NHDOE and DCYF,” the policy goes on to state. ” A best interest determination meeting of a child’s out of home placement should ideally be held within ten calendar days If the determination is that the best interests of a child is not to remain in the school of origin, and instead placed within a new school within this District, the child in foster care shall be immediately enrolled in the new school (“receiving school”), even if any documents or records otherwise required for enrollment are not immediately available.”
The policy also states that if there are disputes “regarding a determination regarding the best interest determination for a child in foster care, it is expected that DCYF and the separate school districts, both sending and receiving, will work collaboratively at the local level to resolve the issue.”
If there is no resolution, the RSA “requires the Department of Health and Human Services to request in writing that the two Superintendents involved resolve the dispute. If the residency dispute remains unresolved after 10 days after such request, the Department of Health and Human Services shall request that the Commissioner of the Department of Education determine the residence of the child for purposes of school enrollment.”
The full proposed policy can be found in the Jan. 30 School Board agenda. The School Board approved sending the policy to a second reading
In personnel news: The School Board approved a number of retirements including Paula Archambault, a support staff member at Matthew Thornton, Cindy Bartholomew, a teacher at North School, Lydia Campos, a Library Media employee at Londonderry High School, Barbara Curro, a teacher at Moose Hill, Steve Juster, a teacher at Londonderry High School, Ann MacLean, a teacher at Londonderry High School, Teri Mayer, a support staff employee at Londonderry Middle School, and Fran Watson, a teacher at North School.
The School Board also accepted resignations from Christine O’Loughlin, a support staff at Londonderry High School, and Janice Sullivan, a support staff employee with Moose Hill.
The next School Board meeting is slated to take place on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

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