Paperwork snafu keeps homeless girl from school - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Paperwork snafu keeps homeless girl from school

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  A homeless family ran into roadblock after roadblock for six weeks as they simply tried to enroll their little girl in school in Dougherty County.

A flat tire and little money forced the family to stop in Albany. The kindness of strangers made them want to stay. With no permanent address, lost paperwork, and a delay in the transfer of school records, they couldn't get 8-year old Anne in class. The frustrated family turned to us.

We brought the problem to administration's attention who make quick work of solving it. Shannon McGuire kept running into roadblocks at the local schools, but she should have taken the issue to the administration office.

District officials say transient students, especially those who are homeless is an issue they face everyday and now they're working with the family to get Anne off the couch and into the classroom. Eight year old Anne McGuire should be in class reading. Instead she's on the couch at home playing her Gameboy, missing her favorite subject.

"Mostly math and activities," said eight year old Anne McGuire.

Along with the games she use to play in school in Washington.

"Name that number where the teacher thinks about a number and she hides it," said McGuire.

Paperwork like Anne's birth certificate needed to enroll her was lost in the move. Anne also needs a dental exam that cost 30 dollars, money the family doesn't have. Now they have a permanent address but that hasn't helped.

"It's a residency verification which they want me to go have notarized and then signed by the school superintendent because I don't have a water, power, gas and light bill," said Shannon McGuire, her mother.

The first course of action to get a student enrolled in school is to go to the individual school but if they run into roadblocks there parents need to come to the administration offices.

"We ask for documentation in the form of a birth certificate school records things of that sort and if we don't have that readily available then we'll work with the parent or guardians to try and get the child in school," said Dougherty County School System Superintendent Carlos Keith.

After a conference call between the deputy superintendent and the McGuires they were told to come to the office and bring what paperwork they had. Schools say with kidnappings and custody battles they do need to follow some protocol.

"With things the way they are now a days we have to be extremely careful because we are liable and we don't want to do anything to put any child in danger," said Keith.

In this case, danger aside, they're doing what they can to get Anne back in the classroom. Late Friday afternoon school officials were able to get Anne enrolled at Northside Elementary School and even provide her with the uniforms she need to be in class Monday.

The Dougherty County School System employs several social workers to deal with cases like Anne's, and ensure that children in a homeless situation have the resources they need to get to and from school.

For homeless families who are having trouble getting children in school there is help.

The Albany Office of Georgia Legal Services will assist them.  Parents can call (229)430-4261 or if outside the calling area, 1-800-735-4271. 


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