Answer: Thanks for providing the timeline.  The answer to your final question is no. The right to attend the school of origin always is based on the best interest of the student.  Often (maybe even usually), it will be not be in a student’s best interest to return to the school of origin once he has enrolled in a new school and attended for a long period of time.

Full Question:

If a family changes their mind about their decision to leave the “school of origin” after becoming homeless, do they always have the right to return no matter the circumstance? Please read the email trail below and help with this question.

In summary:

  • 7/1/16 – 11/29/16 – The 5th grade student attended our elementary school from 3rd grade and into the current school year prior to becoming homeless (was in hotel) on 9/8/16.
  • 9/8/16 – Identified as in transition (family lived in a hotel).
  • 11/29/16 – Family moved to permanent housing and student enrolled in a new school near the new housing.
  • 1/30/17 – New school principal’s office calls our McKinney-Vento program (because our office had flagged student in database as homeless) to say the student “is having a hard time in new school and could you facilitate her return to her former school.”
  • 1/30/17 – Mother calls me to say the same thing that they are having difficulty in new school and want re-enrollment back to old school.
  • 1/30/17 – I provide transportation assistance to mother to go to old school principal to discuss; principal agrees to take back the student.
  • 1/31/17 – Old school principal emails me requesting for direction on how to effect the transfer; I email Central Enrollment Center (CEC) for assistance.
  • 1/31/17 – CEC is questioning the relevance of McKinney-Vento’s school of origin provisions, since the student had recently (last) enrolled in a different school
  • I/31/17 – I email CEC the 2-part definition: school attended when permanently housed orthe school in which the student was last enrolled. Our school is the school the child attended when permanently housed.

Now CEC is seeking guidance with the question that I am posing to you for guidance also.

Full Answer:

Thanks for providing the timeline.  The answer to your final question is no. The right to attend the school of origin always is based on the best interest of the student.  Often (maybe even usually), it will be not be in a student’s best interest to return to the school of origin once he has enrolled in a new school and attended for a long period of time.  At that point, disrupting the student again to remove him from the new school and place him back in a previous school, likely to involve a longer commute and the instability that comes from another transfer, is not likely to be in the student’s best interest.

In this situation, it seems that the parent, the administration at the new school, and the administration at the school of origin all agree it is in the student’s best interest to return to the school of origin.  The best interest is clear.  And it is very understandable, considering the student spent relatively few school days in the new school, has a multi-year history with the school of origin, and still has most of this semester left to make the most of the time at the school of origin.

The resolution of this situation probably would be different if there was disagreement about his best interest, or if it were now May and he had been attending the new school since late November.

We hope this is helpful!

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