Homeless Students Face New School Challenges

Clovis Unified’s Student Services help assist homeless students and others alike with basic essentials like food, transportation, education programs, and more. (Courtesy of Wavebreakmedia/Envato Elements)

Many high school students this year entered uncharted territory by taking classes online, and thus requiring more resources than ever to receive a free, public education.

This new ground is not easily walked upon, even for those who have access to technology, reliable internet, and a quiet room to attend class and study.

And it is certainly an even greater challenge for those without access to all of the above.

Homelessness among Clovis Unified students is a yearly concern, but with schools now asking more from their students, the question of how homeless students are being accommodated looms largest.

According to Clovis Unified Board Policy No. 3503, homeless students within the district have the right to “equal access to the same free and appropriate public education provided to other District students.”

The policy includes equal access to educational services, vocational and technical education programs, transportation, food services and gifted education programs.

Dr. Ann-Maura Cervantes, director of Student Services and School Attendance for Clovis Unified, and her department attend to the homeless students’ needs during this unusual school year.

Yet there remains one big funding question for these support systems. After all, with numerous fundraising events being cancelled, there is reason to believe programs providing benefits to homeless students could take a significant hit in the wallet.

Another concern remains how the disadvantaged students will transition from high school to community college, namely local city colleges such as Fresno City and Clovis Community, where they are out of the reach of Clovis Unified’s support.

Plans are in place within Clovis Unified to prevent homeless students from “slipping through the cracks” – but once they leave the district, there is no knowing where the next helping hand will be to turn to.

For more information on how Clovis Unified is tending to these students’ needs, contact Director Cervantes through her email at annmauracervantes@cusd.com, or assistant director Aprille Meza at aprillemeza@cusd.com.

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.