Answer: There are two issues here. One is a question of best interest. The student has the right to remain in the school of origin for the duration of homelessness, if that is in her best interest. In this case, the absences would be part of the best interest determination— for example, is there some reason to believe her attendance would be better at a different school? We don’t see evidence of that in the information you provided, but there may be additional facts. Is there reason to believe her attendance at the magnet school will improve next year? If grandmother’s challenges have passed, the student may be on track for better attendance next year. And there will be other best interest factors, such as the educational services available at the magnet school, the importance of educational stability, etc. When all the factors are weighed, is it in her best interest to stay at the magnet school, or transfer?
A related issue is the absences. ESSA now requires LEAs to “remove barriers to the identification of homeless children and youths, and the enrollment and retention of homeless children and youths in schools in the State, including barriers to enrollment and retention due to outstanding fees or fines, or absences.” For this student, the absences are a barrier to her enrollment and retention in the magnet school. Assuming attending the magnet school is in the student’s best interest, the absences cannot be a barrier to her enrollment there.