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Districts pay $215 a day to bus homeless student 37 miles

Ohanian Comment: This seems outrageous, but when you get to the fact--at the very end--that the student is a senior, it becomes understandable. Plus: The definition of "homeless" covers people living in a motel, living with another family or awaiting foster placement or adjudication.

by Associated Press

RACINE, Wis. - A stipulation in the No Child Left Behind Act has compelled two school districts to share a bill of almost $215 a day to bus a homeless student to and from school.

This spring a student from Racine Unified School District's Horlick High School moved to West Allis 37 miles away. But the student preferred to remain enrolled at Horlick, so the Racine and West Allis districts must share the cost of busing him for the three days a week he attends classes.

The districts are compelled to pay by the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which became part of the better-known No Child Left Behind Act.

Because the student is classified as homeless, the law permits him to remain in his "district of origin" if he so chooses.

The act is intended to promote educational stability, said spokesman Joe Donovan of the state's Department of Public Instruction.

If the student chooses not to change schools, the old district and the local one must agree on how to cover the cost of transportation, he said.

If there is no agreement, both districts split the costs, as is the case for this student, he added.

Racine Unified and West Allis share evenly the daily $214.94 bill for a small bus, said Linda Flashinski, the Racine district's director of communication.

She said the student only attends classes three days a week to keep transportation costs down.

The federal government does not provide funding assistance when the transportation is required by law.

The McKinney-Vento Act's definition of "homeless" covers people living in a motel, living with another family or awaiting foster placement or adjudication.

The law doesn't specify how close students must live from their original district to qualify for busing, and the burden rests with districts to provide a compelling reason to not supply transportation, Donovan said.

The student is the only one being transported by the district under McKinney-Vento, Flashinski said.

"Since this student is a senior, the busing will only be through the remainder of this year and will allow him to graduate with his high school class," she said.

— Associated Press
Janesville Gazette


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