Is there funding for extra-curricular activities under McKinney Vento for homeless students?
This question was asked during the Seattle/King County Coalition’s Annual McKinney-Vento 101 training on August 22nd. Jess Lewis from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Katara Jordan from Columbia Legal Services spent 2 hours introducing and explaining the complex issues in McKinney-Vento legislation to close to 100 school staff and housing and homeless service providers. The McKinney-Vento Act requires school districts to immediately register, transport and provide and pay for extra-curricular activities to homeless students. There are more than 26,000 students in Washington state that qualify for McKinney-Vento services, and school districts must pay for these services whether or not they recieve funding under the law. Most school districts do not receive this funding. Washington State has 295 school districts. Of those, 23 receive McKinney-Vento sub-grants. If a student wants to participate in extra-curricular activities, the school district is required to address the barrier to full participation. Often, school districts will look to community service providers, booster clubs, etc. to try and address the specific needs of students. If other resources cannot be found, the school district is still required to find some way to address the barrier to participation.
Another common question service providers ask and school staff often find confusing is:
What is the distance that schools are required to transport kids to school?
Many school personnel have been told that schools will not transport kids out of their county. However, there is no specific distance or commute time mentioned in the McKinney-Vento Act when it comes to school of origin transportation. So, a student attending school in Everett Public Schools, as an example, and finds shelter with her family in Seattle can continue attending her school in Everett if it is determined by all parties that this is best for the student. The main consideration is whether or not it is in the student’s best interest to remain in their school of origin. Because McKinney-Vento is a federal law, school districts often commute with students over county and state lines. School of origin transportation should not be automatically declined because the student is currently staying in a different county. The decision should be made on a case-by-case basis and the determination of best interest should be made based on the determination of whether or not it is feasible for the specific student.
For more information about McKinney-Vento and Resources check out these links:
List of McKinney-Vento Liaison’s in all Washington School Districts
National Alliance to End Homelessness