One of my school district homeless liaisons is asking if receiving free school meals would impact a family’s immigration status under the possible changes to the Public Charge Rule. We have a few districts that would be impacted by this, and there are families in those communities that are already concerned about this.

Answer: The proposed Public Charge rule is complex, but here is some basic information. First, you can refer people to the text of the proposed rule (although it is quite long):...

Our district policy is that if an unaccompanied minor’s parent is out of state, whomever he/she was living with would have to apply for temporary guardianship in order for the youth to enter school. I have always thought that for McKinney-Vento purposes that should not be our policy, because the minor qualifies as homeless, and it shouldn’t matter where the parent was. Am I right?

Answer: Yes, you are exactly right! The requirement for a caretaker to get temporary guardianship is a barrier to enrollment that would be a violation of McKinney-Vento. The time it takes to get guardianship, the cost and the paperwork would delay enrollment, and that...

Even though we have a state law that requires students to take the TB test to be physically in class, I understand that federal law overrides state law, and that a student identified as homeless can be in the classroom regardless if they have a TB test. Can you point me to this provision in federal law?

Answer: The McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to enroll students experiencing homelessness immediately, even if the student is unable to provide documents that are typically required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, records of immunization and...

Is a student considered homeless if the family owns multiple residences but loses or leaves one of them? We recently had a situation with a family who had one of their homes foreclosed on, but still owned and moved into their vacation cottage.

Answer: No, the student would not be eligible under McKinney-Vento. The family moved directly from one fixed, regular, and adequate residence, to another fixed, regular, and adequate residence, with no qualifying homeless situation in between. The only caveat would be...

I have been assisting a student with financial aid to start college. At the end of July, we received notice from the college that the student would not be able to start school for the fall semester because she needed a “verification of non-filing” from the IRS. We didn’t know this was required. We have requested the form, but how can I ensure the student can start classes in the fall?

Answer: There is no federally-imposed deadline for this IRS form. It seems to be a school-imposed deadline, meaning the school could waive it. It’s unclear why the school didn’t ask for this documentation sooner, knowing the student’s circumstances. The best...

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