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In Williamsburg, homelessness shows its face in subtle ways: makeshift tents near the railroad tracks, piles of clothing in the woods off Richmond Road and motel rooms serving as temporary housing.
For several hundred Williamsburg-area students, homelessness is also a very real part of life. It means not having a permanent home to return to at the end of the school day, sleeping on a relative’s couch, at a shelter or in a car. For the past five years, more than 400 Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools students have been identified as homeless each school year. The number fluctuates but has remained at more than 400 students for the past five years — about 3.5 percent of the school division’s total student population.
Of WJCC’s 16 schools, 13 currently have at least 10 enrolled students who have been homeless this school year. Without a permanent address within a school division’s coverage area, enrolling homeless student presents its own sets of challenges. Under the McKinney-Vento Act, the school must arrange transportation for that homeless student, even if they live outside of the division’s district.
When a student is living outside of the school’s regular residency area, school divisions will work together. The school of origin — where they were last enrolled — works with the school division where the student physically resides to find which school division would be best for the student to attend.