Answer: In situations like this, schools cannot require the address of the shelter.  Many or most domestic violence shelters do not allow residents to share the address.  That is a critical element of safety for all the families staying there. If the school were to require the parent to share the address, the parent most likely would be forced to leave the shelter, and all the residents of the shelter could be at risk.  Even though the school would keep the address information confidential, there’s no way to know if an administrator or other person with access to the information could be an abusive spouse, or relative of an abusive spouse who might share the location information.

Those safety reasons and shelter rules mean it would be a barrier to identification, enrollment and retention in school for the school to require the parent to reveal the address of the shelter.  Since the McKinney-Vento Act requires the school to remove those barriers, the school must allow the student to enroll and attend without that information. The bus will have to pick the student up at a mutually-agreeable location.  If the parent wants the donut shop, considering the age of the student, that seems like a reasonable request. Considering that this is a domestic violence situation, the parent presumably is choosing a location where she believes her child will be safe.  If there is a concern about potential liability, the parent could sign a release/consent to have the student picked up and dropped off at that location. If the school requires another pick-up location, and the abuser shows up and abducts the child, the school likely would be at much greater risk of liability.  If needed, the school and parent can work together to find a suitable location (not the shelter), that would be agreeable to both parties.

McKinney-Vento does permit schools to require contact information, but the school cannot require information that would be a barrier to identification, enrollment or retention in school, which the shelter address would be in this case.  So a phone number for the mother, and secondary contact information of the mother’s choosing, would be appropriate.

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