McKinney-Vento does not require a school to go over capacity. One thing to keep in mind is that a McKinney-Vento student always has the right to remain in the school of origin. So for example, a school cannot deny a McKinney-Vento student enrollment due to being full if the school is the student’s school of origin. That student already has a seat in that classroom, and s/he can’t be forced to give it up to another student just because homelessness has the student living out of the attendance area or district.
But if a student is coming into the area brand new and seeking to enroll as a first-time student, and the classroom or program is full, there is no requirement to go over capacity. If the school is able to make space, and it’s in the child’s best interest, that is terrific. But it is not required.
Schools also should keep track of McKinney-Vento students coming in after the school is full, because that data can help the school plan for the future. The US Department of Education’s Guidance says:
“LEAs should anticipate and accommodate the needs of McKinney-Vento-eligible students to enter charter schools, magnet schools, and other schools, programs, and activities despite missing application and enrollment deadlines due to a period of homelessness. In addition, LEAs should consider giving homeless children and youths priority if there is a waitlist for these schools, programs, and activities.” (Question I-6).
So as data show the need to hold spaces open and/or prioritize McKinney-Vento students on waitlists, schools should take those actions. This is particularly important for preschools and other early childhood programs.