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Homeless Assistance

South Portland Public Schools follow the provisions of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which aims to minimize the educational disruptions experienced by eligible students who meet the definition of “homeless”. Other terms used to describe this living arrangement include “houseless” or “unhoused.”

For any questions related to McKinney-Vento or to determine eligibility for services please contact Brian Cavanaugh, Ed.D., Instructional Support Administrator and McKinney-Vento liaison at 207-767-3266 X3812 or

You may also contact one of our McKinney-Vento social workers: 

Kelsey Harfoush- 207-800-6825,

Julie Gillen- 207-835-9527,

According to McKinney-Vento, an eligible student is defined as a student eligible to attend preschool, elementary, or secondary school, who lives in any of the following situations

  1. In a shelter

  2. In a motel or campground due to the lack of an alternative adequate accommodation

  3. In a car, park, abandoned building, or bus or train station

  4. Doubled up with other people due to loss of housing or economic hardship

Under McKinney-Vento, eligible students have the right to:

  • A free appropriate public education

  • Enrollment in school immediately, even if lacking documents normally required for enrollment

  • Enrollment in school and attend classes while the school gathers needed documents

  • Enroll in the local school; or continue attending their school of origin (the school they attended when permanently housed or the school in which they were last enrolled) if preferred

    • If the school district believes that the school the youth/family selects is not in the best interests of the youth, then the district must provide a written explanation of its position and inform the family of the right to appeal the decision

  • Receive transportation to and from the school of origin, if the family requests this

  • Receive educational services comparable to those provided to other students, according to the child’s needs

According to the National Center for Homeless Education, the following signs may indicate homelessness:

  • Lack of continuity in education

  • Transportation and attendance problems

  • Poor health/nutrition

  • Poor hygiene

  • Lack of privacy/personal space after school

  • Social and behavioral concerns

  • Reactions/statements by parent, guardian or child