Answer: There is no clear, specific requirement to provide transportation to the preschools with openings that are outside the attendance area, since only “comparable” transportation is required (and comparable in this case means no transportation). However, you could certainly make the case under the law that lack of transportation is a barrier to the enrollment of the children in preschool, and that the district is obligated to remove the barrier. Also, as you know, Title IA funds can be used to pay for preschool transportation (both to preschool of origin and other preschools).
Also, looking to the future, it would be important to explore ways to create on-going capacity at preschools (especially close to shelters) by reserving some slots for homeless children, moving them to the top of the waitlist, or other methods to ensure that there are procedures to remove barriers to enrollment. The McKinney-Vento Act now requires immediate enrollment even if the child or youth “has missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness.” Reserving slots or going to the top of the waitlist can help school districts comply with this requirement when programs are full.