Answer: All LEAs that receive Title I, Part A funds must reserve funds for homeless children and youth, including those LEAs where every campus is a Title I campus.
This is clear from the fact that the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) eliminated the previous limitation on the requirement to reserve funds. The ESSA amendment to the language is as follows:
“(c) ALLOCATIONS … (3) RESERVATION OF FUNDS. (A) IN GENERAL.– A local educational agency shall reserve such funds as are necessary under this part, determined in accordance with subparagraphs (B) and (C), to provide services comparable to those provided to children in schools funded under this part to serve— (i) homeless children and youths who do not attend participating schools, including providing educationally related support services to children in shelters and other locations where children may live.” 20 U.S.C. §6313(c)(3)(A).
Prior to ESSA, the phrase “who do not attend participating schools” limited the requirement to reserve Title I Part A funds for homeless children and youth only to those LEAs that had non-Title I schools.
ESSA deleted the phrase “who do not attend participating schools.” This was a substantive change in the law, reflecting Congress’s intent to eliminate the restriction on the application of the requirement to LEAs that have non-Title I schools. Without this limitation, all LEAs that receive Title I, Part A are required to reserve such funds as are necessary to provide homeless children and youth with services comparable to those provided to children in schools funded under Title Part A.
We also would note that the phrase “as are necessary” modifies the phrase “such funds”; it does not limit the actual requirement to reserve funds. All LEAs must reserve funds for homeless children and youth, based on the total allocation and prior to any allowable expenditures and transfers. The amount of the funds reserved must be “necessary” to provide services comparable to those provided to children in schools funded under this part.
Lastly, the word “comparable” does not mean “the same as.” “Comparable” is not defined in the statute, and if a term is not expressly defined in a statute, the term is given its ordinary, dictionary definition. The dictionary definition of “comparable” is “similar or about the same” or “of equivalent quality; worthy of comparison.”
Therefore, the mere fact that homeless children and youth attend a Title I school does not mean that they are receiving comparable services under Title I Part A. In fact, the statute specifically authorizes the reserved Title I Part A funds to be used for “services not ordinarily provided to other students under this part.”
A summary of all of the homelessness-related provisions in Title I Part A may be downloaded here.