How federal law could help mom whose kids can’t go to school over residency claims

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- An overwhelmed Jasmine Jenkins is still trying to figure out a problem her family is facing.

Her two children have been sitting at home for three weeks, unable to go to the school they have attended for two years.

A residential concern prompted officials from Henrico County Public Schools to investigate.

Officials determined the home on Blue Jay Lane isn’t where Jenkins and her children live.

That’s why the school district withdrew Jenkins’ third and fourth graders from Pinchbeck Elementary.

Mom, adamant that they all live there, disagreed with the action.

Jasmine Jenkins' two children look on as she talks to reporter Shelby Brown.

Jasmine Jenkins' two children look on as she talks to reporter Shelby Brown.

“Do you live somewhere else? I do not. Do you have an apartment somewhere else? I do not. Do you own a house? No ma’am. Is your name on the lease anywhere other than where you live now? No ma’am,” explained Jenkins during an exchange with CBS 6 Problem Solver Shelby Brown.

A Henrico school spokesperson said when a residency issue arises, they investigate and there is a review process. Once a determination is made about the situation, there is no appeal.

The Problem Solvers spoke with one state lawmaker about the case.

He said if Jenkins and her children are living with other family members and the mom has no lease anywhere, and no permanent address for her children, he believes a federal law could apply.

CBS 6 asked Henrico County Public Schools about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

That classifies students as homeless if they meet some of the following conditions.

If the family is “doubling up” with relatives, friends or strangers. If they live in emergency or transitional shelters, that also qualifies a child.

A few of the others include if they live in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds, cars, public spaces or abandoned buildings.

Jenkins says after the CBS 6 story aired on Tuesday, she was also contacted by a few other parents who wanted to inform her of the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Jenkins said the fact that she doesn’t have a lease or mortgage, she does consider herself in a homeless situation.

She knows it feels odd because they do have a roof over their heads when they stay with Jenkins’ mom and grandmother.

“But if this McKinney-Vento Act can help us get the kids back in school, that’s fine," she said.

The federal law ensures that children who experience homelessness can attend school.

Schools must also make provisions for them, including transportation accommodations.

While a spokesperson for the Henrico County Public Schools could not speak specifically about this family’s case, he did say the mom is welcome to have a discussion with district leaders to see if they are McKinney-Vento eligible.

Jenkins says she plans to reach out to whoever is in charge of that for the county.

Depend on CBS 6 News and to continue to follow this story and bring you the latest updates.

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