Answer: Generally, yes. Depending on how the state organizes charter schools, they either are their own local educational agencies (LEAs) or part of another LEA. Either way, the McKinney-Vento Act applies to charter schools. ESSA amended McKinney-Vento to ensure that “homeless children and youths who meet the relevant eligibility criteria do not face barriers to accessing academic and extracurricular activities, including . . . charter school programs.” 42 USC §11432(g)(1)(F)(iii). Another ESSA amendment states that McKinney-Vento students are entitled to immediate enrollment “even if the child or youth has missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness.” 42 USC §11432 (g)(3)(C)(i)(II).
Therefore, unless the relevant classroom is full, or the charter school has specific skill requirements the student does not meet (like a school for the arts that requires certain artistic abilities), the charter school must enroll the student, even if application or enrollment deadlines have passed. In addition, the US Department of Education’s Guidance states that “LEAs should anticipate and accommodate the needs of McKinney-Vento-eligible students to enter charter schools, magnet schools, and other schools, programs, and activities despite missing application and enrollment deadlines due to a period of homelessness. In addition, LEAs should consider giving homeless children and youths priority if there is a waitlist for these schools, programs, and activities.”