Two students who were kicked out of school after becoming homeless will temporarily be allowed back in their Pennsylvania district until a judge makes a final ruling on their case.
The two brothers -– whose names have not been released to the public -– were expelled from the Eastern Area School District earlier this month because they currently live outside the district in a camping trailer, according to local outlet The Morning Call. The district’s actions directly contradict the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which says that homeless children who live in “motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds” outside their district are allowed remain in the school they attended prior to becoming displaced.
The special education students, who are in 8th and 12th grade, were displaced after their home was foreclosed on in 2011, local outlet The Express-Times reported. The family was previously told in 2011 that the boys could remain enrolled the district, where their mother works part-time.
However, after the school district decided that the trailer constituted an adequate home, officials decided to bar the boys from their previous school, according to The Express-Times. The family subsequently sought legal help, and last week a federal judge said the district must re-enroll the students until a formal decision is issued.
"We're very happy. This is a positive step in the right direction for these students," Maura McInerney, an attorney with the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, the organization that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students, told The Morning Call.
The district solicitor, John Freund, told the outlet that the district previously made the decision to ban the boys for financial reasons.
"The education of the children is an expensive proposition borne largely by the taxpayers of each district," Freund said. "The question of entitlement by way of residency to a free and public education is something that is very closely scrutinized."
The two students are hardly alone in their struggle. According to data released earlier this year by the National Center for Homeless Education, which is funded by the Department of Education, the number of homeless students attending U.S. public schools during the 2011–2012 school year was at an all-time high of 1.1 million.