Best Interest Determinations
2.1 Children in foster care enroll or remain in their district of residence unless there is a determination that it is not in the child's best interest to attend the district of residence (ESEA §1111(g)(1)(E)(i)). The best interest determination must be based on all relevant factors, including:
- Safety considerations, (concerns of parent access, bullying, etc.);
- Proximity of the resource family home to the child's present school (no limit on distance, case by case considerations);
- Age and grade level of the child as it relates to other factors;
- Needs of the child, including social adjustment and wellbeing;
- Child's preference;
- Child's performance, continuity of education and engagement in present school;
- Child's special education programming;
- Point of time in the school year;
- Child's permanency goal and likelihood of reunification; and
- Anticipated duration of current placement
2.2 If the child's foster care placement changes, and it is determined to be in his/her best interest, the child has the right to remain in his/her pre-placement district for the duration of his/her time in foster care.
2.3 LEAs and local child welfare agencies (CWAs) should collaborate to develop a joint process for making best interest determinations, which should consider multiple student-centered factors, including:
- Consultation with the child, if appropriate, and adults who have meaningful relationships with the child;
- Child's attachment to current educational setting, including meaningful relationships with staff and peers;
- History of school transfers and how they have impacted the child; and
- How the length of the commute would impact the child, based on the child's developmental stage.
Please Note: Transportation costs should not be a factor.
2.4 If parties cannot come to agreement, the ultimate decision should reside with the child welfare agency (CWA).
2.5 To the extent feasible and appropriate, to reduce the number of school moves, a child must remain in his/ her pre-placement district while awaiting a decision.