Answer: It would be important to look at whether changing to the alternative placement might lead to him/her dropping out of school. The McKinney-Vento Act requires school districts to eliminate barriers to enrollment (including full participation) and retention in school. 42 USC 11432(g)(1)(I). On one hand, regular district policy for all students should apply to a McKinney-Vento student in this situation. However, that can’t be done in isolation from the federal requirements. The student has the right to remain in his/her school of origin, if that is in his/her best interest. If grades and attendance at the school of origin have been poor, that is a consideration. But if switching to the alternative school might trigger his/her dropping out, poor attendance, lower achievement, etc., then it probably would not be in his/her best interest to leave his/her school of origin. One last point: the district must give priority to the youth’s wishes regarding what school to attend. 42 USC 11432(g)(3)(B)(ii). It sounds like the youth wants to stay in the school of origin, so that is an important factor. This might be an opportunity to discuss the youth’s current attendance issues with him/her, letting the student know that you want to support him/her in remaining in the school of origin, but you need his/her attendance to improve. You can talk about what would help the student come to school more, and how to work together to improve his/her attendance and grades at the school of origin–holding the student accountable, but giving him/her support.

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