Rotary Club of Fernandina Beach
Club 4360, District 6970

Angie McClellan teaches us about what Nassau County Schools are doing about student homelessness

 
 
Recently, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club welcomed Angie McClellan, Nassau County School District’s Homeless Liaison. McClellan, a native of Nassau County and former teacher, accepted the challenge of coordinating services for the McKinney-Vento/Homeless Education Act in 2012. She explained that McKinney-Vento is a 20-year-old Federal law that requires each school district provide assistance to homeless or near-homeless students. She noted that recent surveys have identified some 210 students who are considered homeless or living in substandard housing, although she believes the number is closer to 300. McClellan’s mission is to accurately identify at-risk students, keep them enrolled in school, alleviate any barriers to the student’s ability to get an education and provide resources and assistance to increase the student’s success in school. She went on to explain the consequences of homelessness for students, saying that 36 percent of homeless children often must repeat a grade, 75 percent read below their grade level and that they score up to 20 percent lower on standardized tests. By providing services such as free breakfast and lunch, school supplies and books, clothing and hygiene products, doctor and dentist referrals, and by monitoring attendance and academic achievement, many of the educational barriers these children face can be mitigated. She closed by saying that the McKinney-Vento Act provided no funding for its mandates, so the school district’s program is paid for through grants and donations.