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Policy 3116

Students in Foster Care

The board recognizes that students in foster care include all students who are the subject of a dependency proceeding as defined in RCW 28A.150.510 and that these students experience mobility in and out of the foster care system and from one home placement to another that disrupts their education, thereby creating barriers to academic success and on-time graduation. Through collaboration with state, local and/or tribal child welfare agencies, the district will strive to minimize or eliminate educational barriers for students in foster care, particularly with regard to enrollment, transfer of student records, and transportation to their school of origin. The superintendent or designee is authorized to establish procedures and/or practices for implementing this policy.

 The district and its schools will work to maintain systems to identify students in foster care to ensure that each student has proper access to free school meals and that applicable accountability and reporting requirements are satisfied.

District and Building Level Points of contact
The superintendent or designee will designate an appropriate staff member to serve as the district’s foster care liaison with local child welfare agencies if such agencies notify the district in writing that they have designated a point of contact for the district.  The district foster care liaison will work with appropriate state, local and/or tribal child welfare agencies to receive notifications and share information regarding the status and progress of students who are in foster care. The district foster care liaison will also work collaboratively with the district’s Title I coordinator to provide supports for students in foster care that are enrolled or seeking to enroll in the district.

Each district school, including elementary, middle and high schools will establish a building point of contact for students who are in foster care.  The principal of each school will appoint the building point of contact for students in foster care in consultation with the district foster care liaison.  The building level point of contact will be responsible for coordinating services and resources for students in foster care.  The district’s foster care liaison will train the building level points of contact.

Students in foster care must remain enrolled in the school they were attending at the time they entered foster care or changed foster placements, unless it is determined to be in their best interest to attend the neighborhood school.  Best-interest determinations should be made as quickly as possible (before any move is made) in order to prevent educational discontinuity for the student and should take into account student-centered factors and input from the relevant and appropriate persons listed in procedure 3116P.

If remaining in the school of origin is determined not to be in the student’s best interest, the district will immediately enroll that student in their new school. Enrollment may not be denied or delayed based on the fact that documents normally required for enrollment have not been provided.

A school may not prevent a student in foster care from enrolling based on incomplete information of any history of placement in special education, any past, current, or pending disciplinary action, any history of violent behavior, or behavior listed in RCW 13.04.155, any unpaid fines or fees imposed by other schools, or any health conditions affecting the student’s educational needs during the ten (10) day period that the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) has to obtain that information. Upon enrollment, the district will make reasonable efforts to obtain and assess the child’s educational history in order to meet the child’s unique needs within approximately two (2) school business days.   

Records Transfer
When a student in foster care transfers schools, whether within the district or to another school district, the enrolling school will immediately contact the sending school to obtain academic and other records.  The sending school will respond as soon as possible to requests it receives for records of students in foster care.

Additionally, upon receipt of a request for education records of a student in foster care from DCYF, the district will provide the records to the agency within approximately two (2) school days.

The district will collaborate with state, local or tribal child welfare agencies, as appropriate, to implement a written transportation procedure by which prompt, cost-effective transportation will be provided, arranged and funded for students to remain in their school of origin when in their best interest for the duration of their time in foster care.  

If the student’s foster care placement changes to an area served by another school district, and it is determined to be in the best interest of the student to remain in the school of origin, the school district of origin and the school district in which the student is living shall agree upon a method to apportion the responsibility and costs for providing the student with transportation to and from the school of origin.  If the school districts are unable to agree upon an apportionment method, the responsibility and costs for transportation shall be shared equally between the districts.

Dispute resolution
In the event that a caregiver or education decision-maker disputes a district decision regarding the best interest of the student in foster care or the implementation of any other foster care provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 including transportation, the caregiver or education decision-maker may use the three-tiered appeals process outlined in the procedure that accompanies this policy. The district will make all reasonable efforts to collaborate with appropriate agencies and aggrieved parties to resolve the dispute at the local level.

Disputes between the district and a child welfare agency that remain unresolved may be forwarded to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for resolution. 

Review of unexpected or excessive absences
A district representative or school employee will review unexpected or excessive absences of students in foster care and those awaiting placement with the student and adults involved with the student, including their caseworker, educational liaison, attorney if one is appointed, parent, guardian and foster parents. The purpose of the review is to determine the cause of the absences, taking into account: unplanned school transitions, periods of running from care, in-patient treatment, incarceration, school adjustment, educational gaps, psychosocial issues and unavoidable appointments during the school day. The representative or employee will take proactive steps to support the student’s school work in an effort to keep the student from falling behind.

Facilitating on-time grade level progression
The district will: 1) waive specific courses required for graduation for students in foster care if similar coursework has been satisfactorily completed in another school district; or 2) provide reasonable justification for denial of the waiver. In the event the district denies a waiver and the student would have qualified to graduate from their sending school district, the district will provide an alternative process of obtaining required coursework so that the student may graduate on time. 

The district will attempt to consolidate partial credit for unresolved or incomplete coursework and will attempt to provide students in foster care with opportunities to accrue credit in a manner that eliminates academic and non-academic barriers for the student.

For students who have been unable to complete an academic course and receive full credit due to withdrawal or transfer, the district will grant partial credit for coursework completed before the date of the withdrawal or transfer. When the district receives a transfer student in these circumstances, it will accept the student’s partial credits, apply them to the student’s academic progress or graduation or both, and allow the student to earn credits regardless of the student’s date of enrollment in the district.

In the event a student is transferring at the beginning of or during their junior or senior year of high school and is ineligible to graduate after all alternatives have been considered, the district will work with the sending district to ensure the awarding of a diploma from the sending district if the student meets the graduation requirements of the sending district.  

Per RCW 28A.320.192(8), in the event a student enrolled in three or more districts as a high school student, has met state requirements, has transferred to the district, but is ineligible to graduate from the district after all alternatives have been considered, the district will waive its local requirements and ensure that the student receives a diploma.


Cross References:

2418 – Waiver of High School Graduation Credits

3115 – Homeless Students- Enrollment Rights and Services

3120 – Enrollment

3122 – Excused and Unexcused Absences

3231 – Student Records

6100 – Revenues From Local, State and Federal Sources


Legal References:

RCW 28A.150.510 Transmittal of education records to department of social and health services – Disclosure of educational records – Data-sharing agreements – Comprehensive needs requirement document – Report

RCW 28A.225.023 Youth dependent pursuant to Chapter 13.34 RCW – Review of unexpected or excessive absences – Support for youth’s school work

RCW 28A.225.215 Enrollment of children without legal residences

RCW 28A.225.330 Enrolling students from other districts—Requests for information and permanently records—Withheld transcripts-Immunity from liability—Notification to teachers and security personnel—Rules

RCW 28A.225.350 Best interest determinations

RCW 28A.320.148 Foster care liaison – Building point of contact.

RCW 28A.320.192 On-time grade level progression and graduation of students who are dependent youth

RCW 74.13.550 Child placement – Policy of educational continuity

20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA]


Management Resources:

2022 -June Issue

2016 – November Issue

OSPI list of Foster Care Liaisons/DCYF Contacts


La Center School District

Adopted: January 24, 2017

Revised: May 23, 2023