School Choices and Residency Requirements

  • Students may either continue attending their current school or enroll in the school in the attendance zone of their placement. Different high schools in Austin ISD provide different areas of focus, so encourage your student to seek out what most interests him or her. For a list of the programs available at Austin ISD high schools, see (provide link)
  • If the student will be attending the school in the attendance zone where the foster parent resides, standard proof of residency is required (lease, utility bill, or other accepted document). 
  • State law provides that students may continue to attend the school in which they were enrolled immediately before placement and may remain there through the highest grade offered by the school. Austin ISD however, allows students to remain in the school or within the school’s feeder pattern on a tuition-free basis even if place outside the school or AISD attendance zone. Unfortunately, the District is unable to provide transportation.

Enrollment Process for Foster or Shelter Students in Secondary School (AISD Only)

Determining if a student requires specialized attention

  • A High Alert student is a student with a situation requiring special efforts to ensure proper placement, support services, and safety plans.
  • Considerations for determining if a student should be categorized as high alert include criminal record, history of violence, discipline records, safety concerns for student or other students on campus, psychological issues and/or medical issues, sexual acting out behaviors or residential placements of concern.
  • Only the counselor, School Community Liaison (SCL), or administrator should make the determination that a student is a high alert student.

Enrollment process for students requiring specialized attention (high alert students (AISD Only)

  • Enrollment process should NOT exceed three days.
  • Personnel who need to know, such as counselor, should be made aware of the student’s enrollment.
  • Students should promptly be provided with a child study team to determine if an evaluation for special education or other educational services is needed. 
  • Individuals serving as a foster parent must be offered a course about the school’s special education program within 90 days of appointment.
  • Day 1 or Day 2
    1. Shelter or foster care representative should contact Principal’s designee with information about the student, and any issues or concerns. If there are alerts from AISD police, the principal should be notified.
    2. Principal’s designee assesses the paperwork and gathers any other necessary information.
    3. Registrar goes through enrollment procedure of gathering records and information to register the student.
      • If the student is homeless, Project Help should be notified at (512) 414-0760. Under the McKinney Vento Act, homeless unaccompanied youth, such as students enrolling from shelters, can enroll themselves without an adult and can sign the paperwork.
      • If student is under a removal order from another district, administration may honor, revise, or ignore the removal order.
      • If student is under an expulsion order from another district, administration needs to consult with the Student Discipline Coordinator to discuss options for placement.
  • Day 2 or Day 3
    1. Principal’s designee contacts individuals who may have useful information regarding the student including: special education team leader or ARD, former teachers, child study team for interventions and placements, central officer personnel or general counsel for consultation, and other stakeholders for placement discussions.
    2. Student and social worker/guardian meet with registrar and complete registration packet with available records.
      • If no records, transcripts, or schedules are provided, student will be enrolled in 9th grade until the records arrive.
      • Student must be withdrawn from previous school before enrolling. 
      • Registrar will check forms for completeness and signatures, mark checklist for gathering information, request records and other information needed to register student, and collaborate with PEIMS clerk to determine student’s previous enrollment status and verify residence or transfer approval.
      • Registrar will notify the counselor/administrator if the student falls in High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs).
      • Registrar will provide counselor with a copy of all educational records for advisement, guidance, and selection of courses.
      • Registrar will determine grade placement and contact the last school attended if the student does not present current school records to get verbal confirmation of credits, placements, or request records and withdraw form.
      • If a student’s primary language is not English, the registrar will contact the International Welcome Center (IWC) (414-6426) on behalf of the student and refer the student to IWC for assessment.
      • NOTE: Student shall be scheduled for classes on the same day as the student is enrolled. Delay in enrollment should be a rare occurrence and with parent/guardian notification
    3. Student meets with school staff members.
      • Student is assessed by nurse who notifies appropriate campus staff of concerns, if any;
      • School counselor meets with student and guardian, checks for any extenuating circumstances or special services previously provided to the student, assesses placement and schedules for classes, and begins any necessary intervention services plan; and
        • Counselor will notify administrator if a student falls in a High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs)
        • If documentation indicates that the student has a disability that qualifies him/her for protection under 504, the campus 504 coordinator should be contacted to meet with the family or a meeting time should be set.
      • Communities in Schools (CIS) as well as any other applicable agency referrals are made, if appropriate.
      • If the student is homeless, counselor will interview the family to determine if they meet the requirements for the McKinney Vento Act rules for homeless services. If the student qualifies, counselor will sign the Student Residency Questionnaire to certify homeless status and immediately have the form faxed to the Project Help office, (512) 471-0761.
        • Project Help will notify food services via email at cathy.benitez@austinisd.org and provide the name, ID number, and the foster student’s guardian’s name along with the name and title of the person sending the email.
        • NOTE: Student shall receive a free lunch on the first day even if Project Help has not had sufficient time to contact food services.

Students NOT considered high-alert or requiring specialized services

  • Student shall be scheduled for classes on the same day as the student is enrolled. Delay in enrollment should be a rare occurrence and with parent/guardian notification.
  • Student should promptly be provided with a child study team to determine if an evaluation for special education of other educational services is necessary. 

Enrollment Process

  1. At least two hours prior to enrollment, guardian, shelter or foster careshould contact Principal’s designee with student information, date and time of arrival, and any available records.
    • NOTE: Student must be enrolled even if this step is not taken. 
    • If the student is homeless, Project Help should be notified at (512) 414-0760. Under the McKinney Vento Act, homeless unaccompanied youth, such as students enrolling from shelters, can enroll themselves without an adult and can sign the paperwork. If clarification is needed, contact the student’s shelter or previous placement
  2. Designee accesses student’s paperwork and notifies any individuals that need to be notified, including nurse, Impact Chair or Assistant Principal, Special Education team leader, and/or the student’s teachers.
  3. Student and social worker/guardian meet with registrar and complete registration packet with available records.
    • If no records, transcripts, or schedules are provided, student will be enrolled in 9th grade until the records arrive.
    • Student must be withdrawn from previous school before enrolling. 
    • Registrar will check forms for completeness and signatures, mark checklist for gathering information, request records and other information needed to register student, and collaborate with PEIMS clerk to determine student’s previous enrollment status and verify residence or transfer approval.
    • Registrar will notify the counselor/administrator if the student falls in High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs).
    • Registrar will provide counselor with a copy of all educational records for advisement, guidance, and selection of courses.
    • Registrar will determine grade placement and contact the last school attended if the student does not present current school records to get verbal confirmation of credits, placements, or request records and withdraw form.
    • If a student’s primary language is not English, the registrar will contact the International Welcome Center (IWC) (414-6426) on behalf of the student and refer the student to IWC for assessment.
    • NOTE: Student shall be scheduled for classes on the same day as the student is enrolled. Delay in enrollment should be a rare occurrence and with parent/guardian notification
  4. Student meets with school staff members.
    • Student is assessed by nurse who notifies appropriate campus staff of concerns, if any;
    • School counselor meets with student and guardian, checks for any extenuating circumstances or special services previously provided to the student, assesses placement and schedules for classes, and begins any necessary intervention services plan; and
      • Counselor will notify administrator if a student falls in a High Alert Category (See Students with Special Needs)
      • If documentation indicates that the student has a disability that qualifies him/her for protection under 504, the campus 504 coordinator should be contacted to meet with the family or a meeting time should be set.
    • Communities in Schools (CIS) as well as any other applicable agency referrals are made, if appropriate.
    • If the student is homeless, counselor will interview the family to determine if they meet the requirements for the McKinney Vento Act rules for homeless services. If the student qualifies, counselor will sign the Student Residency Questionnaire to certify homeless status and immediately have the form faxed to the Project Help office, (512) 471-0761.
      • Project Help will notify food services via email at cathy.benitez@austinisd.org and provide the name, ID number, and the foster student’s guardian’s name along with the name and title of the person sending the email.
      • NOTE: Student shall receive a free lunch on the first day even if Project Help has not had sufficient time to contact food services.

Required Documents for Enrolling Your Student

  1. Proof of legal authority to enroll the student;
    • Either DFPS Form 2085(in any form); OR a court order naming a DFPS Temporary Managing Conservator (TMC) or a Permanent Managing Conservator (PMC);
  2. Certified copy of student’s birth certificate or other proof of identity (children not born in the United States are allowed 90 days to provide this);
  3. Student’s immunization records (Note: student may be enrolled provisionally even if they have not had the necessary immunizations); and
  4. Student’s records from the school most recently attended.
  5. If student is under 11, the name of each previous school attended and records from those schools.
  6. Students may either continue attending their current school or enroll in the school in the attendance zone of their placement. If student is to be enrolled based on the location of his/her placement, standard proof of residency (leasing information, utility bill, or other document allowed) is required.

NOTE: Students should be enrolled immediately, at any time of day,even if all of the necessary paperwork is not available (unless a special consideration applies, see secondary enrollment process). (hyperlink).

Maintaining the Student’s Education Profile

  • The Education Portfolio contains important school documents and is designed to follow the student to each placement. The portfolio gives caregivers, CPS staff, and the student access to the student’s educational records and documentation. It serves as a valuable resource for tracking appropriate educational and ancillary services, assessments, report cards, and transcripts.
  • According to DFPS, the caregiver’s responsibilities in regard to the Education Portfolio are as follows:
    • Make the Education Portfolio readily available to DFPS caseworkers on all visits.
    • Maintain and update the Education Portfolio. Necessary documents include, but are not limited to, report cards, transcripts, special education documents and meeting notes of the Admissions Review and Dismissal (ARD) team, Individual Education Plan (IEP), and paperwork related to the child’s withdrawal or discharge from school. 
    • Review and discuss the progress reports and report cards with the child.
    • Provide the child’s Education Portfolio to the DFPS caseworker when the child is discharged from the home. Ensure it contains the current education-related documents and records, including paperwork on the child’s most recent withdrawal from school and a transcript.
    • Credit Recovery Options-Austin ISD offers many programs to help students recover credits to be able to graduate with a high school diploma including Austin ISD’s Twilight Program, online credit earning through Garza’s Online High School program, or enrolling in a Premier High School at either Travis High School or Lanier High School. Contact the school’s counselor for more information.

Post-Secondary Education Information

Resources Available to Foster Students

    • Free lunch-Foster students are categorically eligible for free meals in the National School Lunch Program/School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program. All that is required is DFPS form 2085, which must be provided to the school’s food service department.
    • Free Pre-K-Foster children are eligible for free Pre-K, if the child is at least three years of age and is currently in, or ever has been in, Texas foster care as a result of an adversarial hearing.
      • Children ages 3, 4, and 5 in the conservatorship of DFPS must be enrolled in:
        • A pre-kindergarten program offered through the public school; OR
        • An early childhood education program offered through Head Start, if available. If a program is not available in the local community, caregiver must notify caseworker.
        • A caregiver who wishes to enroll the child in a private early childhood education program or a pre-kindergarten program must secure approval for exception to enrollment through the child’s caseworker, supervisor, and program director.
      • Learn more information about Austin ISD Pre-K enrollment here
    • College and Dual Credit Tuition and Fees Waiver-The Texas tuition and fee waiver provides tuition exemptions at state-supported institutions of higher education to youth who enroll as an undergraduate or in a dual credit high school course if:
      • The student was under the conservatorship of DFPS either:
        • on the day before the student’s 18th birthday;
        • on or after the student’s 14th birthday, if the student was also eligible for adoption on or after that day;
        • on the day the student graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
        • on the day before the date the student is adopted or permanent managing conservatorship is awarded to a person other than the student’s parent, if that date is on or after September 1, 2009; OR
        • during an academic term in which the student was enrolled in a dual credit course or other course for which a high school student may earn joint high school and college credit
      • AND the student enrolls before the age of 25.
    • For information on dual credit courses offered at Austin Community College, visit ACC’s website.
    • For information on Austin Community College’s resources for former and current foster care students visit ACC’s Foster Care Alumni Program website.
    • Additional College or Vocational Training Funding- The Texas Education Training Voucher (ETV) provides additional money to former foster youth who enroll in a college or training program. Students can be eligible to receive up to $5,000 a year to help with housing, food, books, computer equipment, tuition and other expenses. This is in addition to the Texas tuition waiver program. To receive funds students generally must be:
      • 16 or 17 and in DFPS foster care and likely to stay in care until student is 18;
      • Not yet 21, but aged out of DFPS foster care; OR
      • Not yet 21, and were adopted from DFPS foster care after turning 16.

Tips for Foster Parents and Other Adults in the Foster Care System

  • Avoid absences
    • Try to schedule appointments before or after school, or on weekends if possible. Caregivers and school staff should work together to secure missed assignments and ensure the student completes them.
    • To ensure students are not mistakenly given unexcused absences, it is important that caregivers communicate to schools, in writing, regarding appointments, court dates, and other activities causing a student to miss school.
  • Set high expectations
    • Send positive messages about future possibilities. Weave forward-looking comments into everyday conversation, for example referring to “when you go on to college...” or “when you start your own business...” Let them know you believe in them.
  • Maintaining communication
    • Keep in contact with school team members, teachers, and court-appointed advocates so all parties are aware of the student’s progress, challenges and achievements.
  • Recognize Successes
    • Celebrate achievements and milestones both academically and personally for the student.

Additional Resources