Answer: This provision is broader than only activities related to academics. Rather than “academic,” the activity must be an integral part of school activities. The basis for this is:
- The definition of “enrollment” includes attending classes and participating in school activities. The law says “school activities”, not “academic activities.”
- McKinney-Vento State Plans are required to describe procedures to ensure that “homeless children and youths who meet the relevant eligibility criteria do not face barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities, including magnet school, summer school, career and technical education, advanced placement, on-line learning, and charter school programs, if such programs are available at the State and local levels.” 42 U.S.C. §11432(g)(1)(F)(iii). Although the examples in this paragraph are generally academic in nature, the use of the word “including” means that the statutory examples are not intended to be an exhaustive list. The law also clearly states “academic and extracurricular activities.” The use of the word “and” indicates that the law looks at academic activities and extracurricular activities as two different things.
This brings us to another question: what extracurricular activities are an integral part of school activities? We think it has to have a tight relationship with the school, and what students in general do or have access to. This is another area of McKinney-Vento where decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.
For activities that do not have a close enough connection to school and what students in general do, or have access to, the next question to ask is what the district does for other students in poverty. It is important to explore PTA funds, donations, or other ways to cover those costs.