(RepublicanNews.org) – A mother is suing a North Carolina school district for allegedly forcing her children to change schools while the family went through a period of homelessness.
The lawsuit was filed on January 26th by a woman identified as K.L. against Gaston County Schools, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the North Carolina Education of Homeless Children coordinator Lisa Phillips, who are accused of failing the plaintiff’s children by forcing them to switch schools as they endured the trauma and stress of homelessness.
According to the 17-page filing, K.L. and her children were evicted in September 2023 while the children were active students at Cramerton Middle School and New Hope Elementary School. With nowhere to go and two children to care for, the mother, who the suit claims is a disabled veteran, had to look for steady housing. The family stayed in Cramerton, but they were now located in a different school zone after the eviction.
Kathy Gauger, executive director at Catherine’s House, said that many women and children are in similar situations of homelessness and struggling to find affordable housing. The non-profit organization houses up to 15 struggling families at a time for a maximum of six months to allow them to find safe and more permanent housing. Gauger said that many of the children taken in receive transportation to school paid for with federal assistance and often come from schools that aren’t within the facility’s “catchment area.”
The lawsuit states that the mother attempted to meet with school district officials and social workers to find a way for her children to remain at their schools while she sought affordable housing, but her request was denied. One of her children was also removed from the middle school cheerleading team.
Switching schools in the middle of the school year could have a drastic impact on a student’s academic performance as well as their mental health, according to Gauger, who said the experience could also cause “behavioral problems” and “poor outcomes academically.”
K.L.’s lawsuit pleads with the judge to permit her children to return to their schools of choice, which her legal team argues is in line with the McKinney Vento Act.
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