When one father lost his job back in 2011, his family of four was forced to move into a camping trailer in Brodheadsville, Monroe County, just outside the school’s district boundaries in Pennsylvania. While his children were protected under the federal law titled McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which allowed them to continue their education at the Easton area school, the school informed him the children were recently “dis-enrolled.”
The two children, one in 8th grade and the other in 12th, were no longer eligible to attend Easton schools as of Dec. 9. The Easton area school district officials state the students now reside outside of the district and must attend the school in the district they reside in.
Easton Schools Solicitor John Freund wrote in an email to The Express-Times that they had “made a studied determination that this family, living outside the boundaries of the district, no longer qualified as homeless for the purpose of free public education in Easton.” (Source)
This statement appears to disregard the children’s best interests. When the father lost his employment, the cost of renting was not an option so he moved his family into a vacation trailer. The trailer is not suitable for winter conditions, nor does it have reliable utilities, including sewage services.
Thus, this family must rely on relatives for extended stays to ensure the most basic need of shelter. The vacation trailer is not an appropriate home for these children.
Additionally, there are no time limits on the definition of ‘homelessness.’
These two children have attended schools in the Easton area all their lives and school activities may be the only stable environment they have during this time of hardship. Any unstable environment may have a direct impact on a child's educational needs and behaviors.
Fortunately, an educational nonprofit group saw the injustice and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the students resulting in the judge’s decision that the children be “re-enrolled” on Thursday, pending the outcome of the case.
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