Answer: Yes. ESSA amended the McKinney-Vento Act to require school districts to “give priority to” the wishes of an unaccompanied youth. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(3)(B)(iv). Prior to ESSA, the law said to “consider” the wishes of the youth. The change is significant, as it clarifies that, for unaccompanied youth, the school must follow the youth’s placement wishes, limited only by a best interest determination made by the school. And if the school district makes a determination contrary to the youth’s wishes, the youth must be given the opportunity to appeal the decision. This applies when a youth wants to enroll in a school/district, and the parent wants the youth in a different school/district.
Here is the actual language:
“(iv) in the case of an unaccompanied youth, ensure that the local educational agency liaison designated under paragraph (1)(J)(ii) assists in placement or enrollment decisions under this subparagraph, gives priority to the views of such unaccompanied youth, and provides notice to such youth of the right to appeal under subparagraph (E).”