Educating the homeless.


The wave of house foreclosures along with the drowning economy is increasing the number of homeless and highly mobile students. Some schools around the country are anticipating the number of homeless students to more than double this year. Children who move frequently or are homeless are prone to fall behind six months academically with every move, and more than a quarter of highly mobile children repeat a grade.

The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was reauthorized in 2002 along with the No Child Left Behind Act. It requires school districts to attempt to keep homeless students in the school they were last in and enroll homeless students immediately even if they don't have proper documentation of birth or medical records. In addition, states and school districts are not allowed to segregate homeless students into separate schools or programs.


This February, a federal judge ordered the Hawaii Department of Education to changes its enrollment requirements, registration, and homeless student tracking process because the current policies violated the McKinney-Vento Act. Critics contend that guidance on McKinney-Vento compliance is hazy. This may explain why state legislators are introducing laws that are more stringent...

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