Clarifying the Rights of Undocumented Students

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Recently, our news has been saturated with stories of unaccompanied youth entering the United States. In response, the Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO), the contractor for Region 10’s management of the McKinney-Vento state project,  sent an email  to districts clarifying the state’s current position with regard to serving these students. The email stated:

Under Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe, undocumented students entering the US from Mexico, Central America, and other countries have the right to enroll in and attend public schools in the US.  Districts should apply the same procedures to determine the homeless status of these students as they do for other students in their district. Once identified as homeless, the students’ status should be reported through PEIMS.  Information on determining homeless status can be found on the Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO) website at or by calling 800-446-3142.

Students are considered unaccompanied under Section 725(6) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act if they “are not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian.”  While not all unaccompanied students are homeless, the majority of them are likely to be homeless because they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

While our public and elected officials continue to wrestle with this issue, THEO and Region thought it would be a good time to provide an overview of recent homeless and unaccompanied youth data for our region and also re-state our responsibilities to serve any student who meets the criteria for homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Act.

The McKinney-Vento act defines a student as homeless if they lack a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence. According to data collected from PEIMS, districts and charter schools in Region 10 identified 12,106 students as homeless for the 2012-13 school year. This number represents close to 8% of the total identified homeless youth in the state of Texas. The Region 10 area includes Grayson, Fannin, Collin, Hunt, Dallas, Rockwall, Kaufman, Ellis and part of Van Zandt counties. In PEIMS, students who are homeless can be reported in 1 of the 4 following housing types: Sheltered, Doubled-Up, Unsheltered and Hotel/Motel. Every student’s housing status is indicated in column 79 of the PEIMS 100 record. Students who are not homeless will receive an indicator of 0. The following chart provides information on the other indicator types.


Sheltered Doubled-Up
PEIMS indicator 1
12.75% of identified homeless youth in Region 10 (2012-13 SY)
Includes students who are living in emergency or transitional shelters.
PEIMS indicator of 2
77.27% of identified homeless youth in Region 10 (2012-13 SY)
Includes students who are sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing economic hardship or similar reason.
Unsheltered Hotel/Motel
PEIMS indicator of 3
2.66% of identified homeless youth in Region 10 (2012-13 SY)
Includes students who are living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, and substandard housing.
PEIMS indicator of 4
7.32% of identified homeless youth in Region 10 (2012-13 SY)
Includes students who are living in hotels or motels due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations.


More information about the McKinney-Vento program can be found at

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