Answer: While McKinney-Vento requires immediate enrollment (including full participation), there is no blanket exemption from all of the athletic association requirements for homeless students. The McKinney-Vento Act requires that states have in place procedures to ensure that “homeless children and youths who meet the relevant eligibility criteria do not face barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities….” The statute specifically states that students must meet relevant eligibility criteria, such as maintaining a certain G.P.A., regular attendance, and the requisite skill level in the sport or activity.

In light of all this, the crux of the issue is whether the reason for the 19-year-old McKinney-Vento student’s participation in athletics is directly related to the student’s homelessness. If that is the case, the student should be allowed to participate. In fact there’s a case from Oregon about a 19-year old student who wanted to participate in track and chorus, was denied due to age, and then won at a hearing because his homelessness contributed to him not being able to make regular academic progress and graduate on-time.  (He later went on to get a singing scholarship to college!)

We would suggest attaching a letter to the athletic waiver form with an explanation of your role as the liaison, your determination of homelessness, and how homelessness has prevented the student from making academic progress (problems with attendance, moving around, etc.).

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