Just as with transportation services to and from class, school districts must immediately respond to education needs that arise as a result of a lack of mobility, said The National Law Center on Homeless & Poverty.
The Center concluded that educational services, such as transportation, are important even in times of crisis, citing United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which emphasize that all human rights must be ensured even as populations are displaced due to disaster or other causes, including education. The Center also points out that federal law does not require a specific mode of transportation be provided by schools, though school districts regularly use school buses as well as public transit, shuttle services, taxis or fuel and mileage reimbursements for shelters and families.
The nonprofit organization specifically made recommendations on providing school bus services in its "Homeless Education Advocacy Manual: Disaster Edition" in January. It was published in response to student displacement caused by Hurricane Sandy last November. The Center said students who might not otherwise qualify for transportation services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act can find themselves in temporary living situations following a natural disaster.
These temporary situations include hotels, motels, trailers, shelters, vehicles or sharing housing with family or friends. As such, these students in "seemingly temporary arrangements" do immediately qualify under McKinney-Vinto because federal law considers students who are "displaced" and "awaiting permanent housing" on par with "homeless" students because both face similar educational barriers. In addition to school and residential mobility, these temporary situations can cause enrollment delays, stress and poor health and nutrition.
According to a 1999 homeless children study by The Better Homes Fund, homeless and displaced students are 36 percent more likely to repeat a grade, a statistic that is twice the rate of other students. That same year, an article published by The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness said that nearly all homeless families move at least once during the course of a year, with about one out of five living in three or more different homes during that same period.