Answer: Yes. The main issue here is the former school not releasing the records. McKinney-Vento requires that school records be maintained so they “are available, in a timely fashion, when a child or youth enters a new school or school district.” 42 USC §11432(g)(3)(D)(i). If the school is withholding the records due to an unpaid fee, fine or other issue, that creates a barrier to enrollment in the new school, which also violates the McKinney-Vento Act. 42 USC §11432(g)(1)(I).

Even if you cannot get the records in time, the student should be allowed to participate in the swim meet. “Previous academic records” are specifically listed in the law as something that cannot delay immediate enrollment. 42 USC §11432(g)(3)(C)(i)(I). Enrollment includes participating fully in school activities, and the swim team is a school activity. Therefore, McKinney-Vento requires the school to allow her to participate in swimming immediately. When the records arrive, if they indicate she is not eligible for academic reasons, at that time the school could respond appropriately.

It’s worth pointing out that this is a situation where a previous school is (illegally) withholding records. There is no allegation that the student is trying to hide her records as a way to participate in swimming against state or district policy.

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