Homeless Students

One of the main goals of the Williamsport Area School District Student Services Department is to help each homeless student have a school life that is as regular as possible during the period of homelessness.

On July 22, 1987, the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act became public law. This was the first comprehensive federal law dealing with the problems of homelessness in America. It is now called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001.

As a first step in 1988, the Pennsylvania Department of Education established the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program. This program has been responsible for assessing Pennsylvania’s homeless children population, developing the appropriate responses and establishing McKinney-Vento Homeless sites.

Some of the objectives of the Williamsport Area School District are to increase awareness about the needs of homeless children, reveal and overcome possible educational barriers, explain current legislation and policies, and provide assistance and support to families.

Under the McKinney-Vento Act homeless students have certain rights including the following:

  • Attend their school of origin or school of current residence
  • Remain in their chosen school for the duration of homelessness or the remainder of the academic year if they become permanently housed during an academic year
  • Immediate enrollment
  • Transportation to the school of choice
  • Immediate access to educational services for which the student is eligible (e.g. Title I, special education, before- and after-school programs, vocational and technical education or gifted and talented programs).
  • Free meals provided by the district through federal, state or local food programs.
  • Appeal educational placement decisions made by the district and remain the school of choice pending resolution.

The district's school social workers can support and help students in homeless situations in many ways. Please see their contact information below.

School Social Worker (Grades 9-12)
Mrs. Julie Caringi 
570-323-8411, ext. 66105

School Social Worker (Grades 7-8) 
Mrs. Christie Peck
570-327-5500, ext. 40332

School Social Worker (Grades 4-6) 
Ms. Kelsey Hope

School Social Worker (Grades K-3) 
Mrs. Kate Zelazny
570-327-5500, ext. 40331

Our social workers  may assist families with the following:

  • Make sure students are enrolled in school immediately, even if they do not have the papers they would normally need.
  • Help families and youth get immunizations, immunization records or other medical records, if a student needs them.
  • Tell parents and youth about all transportation services and help set up transportation.
  • Make sure students get all the school services they need.
  • Tell parents and guardians about all the programs and services the school has for their children.

The homeless liaison for the Williamsport Area School District is:

Dr. Brandon Pardoe, Director of Student Services
570-327-5500, ext. 40310 | [email protected]

Regional Coordinator for or Education of Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness:

Mr. Jeff Zimmerman
570-718-4613 | [email protected]

Understanding Homeless Students' Educational Rights