Amy Miller's Dec. 19 article "Helping Grandparents" did an excellent job highlighting some of the issues facing grandparents who are raising children. However, we want to clarify a few of the statements made regarding school enrollment.
As attorneys at the Education Law Center, we often work with grandparents to make sure the children they're caring for - in a variety of situations - are promptly enrolled in school.
First, a grandparent need not be a legal guardian in order to enroll a child in school. According to current state law, a grandparent can enroll a child by submitting an affidavit stating that he or she cares for the child year-round, assumes responsibility for the child's education, and does not receive compensation or gain for caring for the child. If a grandparent is either the legal guardian or has submitted an affidavit, the grandparent may also serve as the child's education decision-maker for day-to-day decisions.
In some instances, a child living with a grandparent may be experiencing homelessness (e.g. if the child is living with a grandparent and others on a temporary basis due to economic hardship). In that case, the child is entitled to stay in his or her prior school or be immediately enrolled in a new school.
Second, while a school must receive proof of age in order to enroll a student, a school district cannot require a birth certificate. There are many ways to establish proof of age such as old school records, immunization records, baptismal certificate, passport or an affidavit.
These issues are important to highlight because grandparents shouldn't face barriers to enrolling the children in their care in school. Delays in attending school undermine school success for all students, especially for children going through multiple transitions outside of school.
Hallam Roth, Esq.
Maura McInerney, Esq.
Education Law Center
Offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh