Answer: Yes, the McKinney-Vento Act would cover this situation. Specifically, McKinney-Vento requires SEAs and LEAs to develop, review, and revise policies to remove barriers to the identification, enrollment, and retention of homeless students in school, including barriers due to fees, fines, and absences. 42 U.S.C. §(g)(1)(I). Even though the fees were incurred prior to homelessness, they now are acting as a barrier to the student’s “enrollment.” The law defines enrollment as “attending classes and participating fully in school activities,” and graduation is a school activity. Therefore, barriers to participating in graduation caused by fees must be removed. This might be waiving the fee, or using McKinney-Vento or other funds to pay the fee. But the barrier must be removed.
We have a graduating senior, identified as an unaccompanied youth during his senior year, who has outstanding fees for books, etc. They were incurred prior to his homelessness. These fees may prevent him from “walking” at graduation. Can we consider these fees a “barrier” to graduation and advocate for them to be waived?
Sep 24, 2018 | Q and A