The McKinney-Vento Act ensures educational rights and protection for students experiencing homelessness. The law provides stability for students who are most at-risk of not succeeding in school. In addition, it allows students to stay in their current educational setting to prevent a disruption in their lives due to economic hardships. The overall intent of the law is justifiable, however, some parents wrongfully utilize the law to keep their children in their current school even after moving out of the attendance zone.
There are times when our school disputes a child’s residency if we believe a parent is not being truthful. For example, I had a parent that moved into a brand new home, although she claimed to be homeless in order for her child to stay in our school. She insisted that she was living with her mother, not realizing that her son was telling us about their new home.
There are many other occasions when we knew parents were not telling the truth, however they had all the necessary documentation to prove they were homeless. This abuse of the law is not fair to the families that are homeless, because we are forced to scrutinize their documentation as well. As a school, we spend too much time looking into fraudulent claims. My district even has a person assigned to investigate these fraudulent claims. I do believe in the fundamental aspect of the law, however I take issue with parents that abuse it for their own gain. It is there form of “school choice.” I must oblige, even if I disagree, if they have the necessary documentation.
What I have learned is that this law is a non-regulatory policy giving states guidance in developing standards that meet federal guidelines. In addition, it is a redistributive policy requiring a shift in economic resources to provide services for homeless students. Districts are obligated to meet the academic, social, and transportation needs of homeless students. As a school we must comply with the law, except in cases of fraud.