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COMMISSIONER UPHOLDS DETERMINATION OF HOMELESSNESS

The Commissioner of Education issued a Final Decision on November 19, 2007 affirming a school district’s responsibility for the education of four homeless siblings. In so doing, the Commissioner upheld the Administrative Law Judge’s determination that the family did not have to relocate outside of its chosen district in search of affordable housing.

In this case, a parent and her four children experienced multiple evictions from homes in the Bellville school district over the course of several years. Upon becoming homeless, the family resided temporarily with relatives in Newark and Irvington, but never established a permanent residence elsewhere, as evidenced by lease restrictions in the temporary locations and by the parent’s intent to remain domiciled in Bellville.

ELC assisted the family in obtaining a county superintendent determination that held Bellville responsible for the children’s school tuition and transportation while they were homeless. When the school district appealed the county superintendent’s decision, ELC secured pro bono representation for the parent through our participation in the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice program. Through this program, the parent was represented in the contested administrative proceeding by Adrienne L. Isacoff, Esq. of Lowenstein Sandler, who defeated Belleville’s claims that the family was not homeless and that Newark Public Schools was the responsible district.

Prepared: November 28, 2007