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Legislation & Policy

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The Migrant Education Program (MEP) is authorized by Title I, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as amended. There are several legislative, regulatory, and policy documents that apply to the operation of the MEP.

Please note that a number of the sections of the Title I, Part A regulations affect migrant children as members of the overall student population (e.g., adequate yearly progress, supplemental services, parental involvement, etc.).

It is the State's responsibility to make decisions about how best to operate the MEP because the MEP is a State-administered program. As such, the specific needs of migrant children in each State may vary. For this reason, many States have developed State-specific guidance related to the unique needs of migrant children in their State. It is important for Local Operating Agencies (LOAs) to review State MEP Guidance in addition to this Federal MEP policy document in order to understand how the MEP is implemented in their State.

COVID-19 MEP Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 While Serving Migratory Children

In response to multiple requests from grantees and other stakeholders, the Department developed the Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 While Serving Migratory Children. This Fact Sheet provides information to assist State educational agencies (SEAs) and local operating agencies (LOAs) in determining how to continue to identify eligible migratory children and provide services to address their needs, while taking into consideration the health, safety, and well-being of staff and migratory families. To access the Fact Sheet along with additional information and guidance related to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please see: and

COVID-19 Listening Session

The Office of Migrant Education (OME) held a listening session for MEP State Directors on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The purpose of the listening session was threefold:

  1. To give grantees an opportunity to share strategies in order to continue meeting the needs of migratory children within the new paradigm of school closures and social distancing.
  2. To provide an opportunity for OME staff to more fully understand the impact of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on MEP service delivery and support.
  3. To identify areas where OME may want to consider offering technical assistance, guidance, or granting flexibilities for grantees.

MEP COVID-19 Listening Session Slides

MEP COVID-19 Listening Session Chat Box Notes

A-133 Compliance Supplement to Audits

This section contains compliance requirements that apply to more than one U.S. Department of Education (ED) program either because the program was authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), or the program is subject to the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), or both. Programs for which funds were appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) (Pub. L. No. 111-5) are included in this Cross-Cutting Section. Each ARRA program is identified by a separate Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number specific to the ARRA funding, and is clustered with a corresponding CFDA number for the program as operated under the regular (non-ARRA) appropriation. The compliance requirements in this Cross-Cutting Section reference the applicable programs in Part 4, Agency Compliance Requirements. Similarly, the applicable programs in Part 4 reference this Cross-Cutting Section.

Code of Federal Regulations - Migrant Education Program

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each volume of the CFR is updated once each calendar year and is issued on a quarterly basis.

Code of Federal Regulations-Migrant Education

Final Regulations: Title I, Part C – Migrant Education Program (MEP): Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX)

On May 10, 2016, final regulations for the MEP were published in the Federal Register. The Secretary issues regulations to implement the MSIX, a nationwide, electronic records exchange mechanism mandated under title I, part C, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). As a condition of receiving a grant of funds under the MEP, each State educational agency (SEA) must collect, maintain, and submit minimum educational and health information to MSIX within established time frames. The regulations are designed to facilitate timely school enrollment, grade and course placement, accrual of secondary course credits, and participation in the MEP for migratory children. Additionally, the regulations ultimately will help the Department to determine more accurate migratory child counts and meet other MEP reporting requirements.

These regulations were effective June 9, 2016. 

  • For purposes of start-up submissions, an SEA must submit all MDEs applicable to a migratory child’s age and grade level (i.e., "applicable MDEs") within 90 calendar days of the effective date of these regulations for all migratory children who are eligible to receive MEP services in the State on the effective date of the regulations, other than through continuation of services provided under section 1304(e) of the ESEA.
  • In addition, after the effective date of the regulations, SEAs must adhere to specific timeframes to collect and submit to MSIX the applicable MDEs for: Migratory children for whom an SEA has approved a new Certificate of Eligibility (COE), end of term submissions, and change of residence submissions. The timelines required for these subsequent data submissions range from four working days to 30 calendar days.
  • The regulations also require that SEAs establish procedures, develop and disseminate guidance, and provide training in the use of MSIX Consolidated Student Records.
  • SEAs must also use, and require their LOAs to use, reasonable methods to ensure quality and data protection. 
  • Finally, the regulations contain specific requirements for responding to MSIX record correction requests from parents, guardians, and migratory children.

Federal Register Vol 81 No 90 - published 05 10 16.pdf

Letter to Migrant Education Program (MEP) State Directors Regarding Remote Recruitment

Attached is a letter from the Director of the Office of Migrant Education (OME) explaining the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s) policy regarding the use of remote methods (telephone, video conference, and other electronic means) to identify and recruit eligible migratory children for the MEP authorized under Title I, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your program officer.

Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Child Counts for Title I, Part C – Migrant Education Program (MEP) State Allocations

The above letter was sent to Chief State School Officers on Friday, June 17, 2022. The purpose of the letter is to inform State educational agencies (SEAs) of a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) to change the data source the Department uses to calculate State allocations for the MEP authorized under Title I, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and other national reporting requirements for the MEP. Starting with fiscal year (FY) 2023 allocations, the Department will use data States submit to the Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX) to determine (1) the number of eligible migratory children residing in each State and (2) the number of those children to whom the State provided MEP-funded services in summer or intersession programs. This change will begin with the current 2021-22 performance reporting period, the data for which will be extracted from MSIX in mid-December 2022.

All States – MSIX FERPA memo – 4 2 08

This memorandum responds to several questions received by the Office of Migrant Education (OME) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) regarding the applicability of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, to the collection and transmission of migrant student data as part of the Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX). The MSIX is authorized by section 1308(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20 U.S.C. § 6398(b)). This memorandum reflects the position of both ED’s Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO), which is responsible for the interpretation of FERPA for the Department, and OME.

Following a brief overview of FERPA, this memorandum will explain why, for purposes of implementing MSIX, FERPA permits without parental consent: (1) local educational agencies (LEAs) and other local operating agencies (LOAs) that provide educational services to migrant students to provide minimum data elements on migrant students to their respective State educational agency (SEA) or State migrant student data system; (2) SEAs or State migrant student data systems to redisclose this information to MSIX, as operated by ED and its contractor; and (3) MSIX to be used to exchange minimum data elements on migrant students among SEAs and LEAs and LOAs on an interstate or intrastate basis.

All States – Categorical eligibility for school lunch – 2 14 05

This memorandum addresses P.L. 108-265, which was signed into law in late June of 2004. P.L. 108-265 reauthorized and amended the Richard Russell School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act. Among the amendments was a new provision that made migrant children “categorically eligible” to receive free school meals once documentation of their status as migrant children was provided to the school food authorities (SFAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs).

In brief, the term “categorically eligible” means that a migrant child, simply by being documented as a migrant child, can receive free school breakfasts and lunches without the child’s family having to complete and submit any written application or otherwise provide information as to the family’s income level to justify receipt of free or reduced price meals. For purposes of this new categorical eligibility provision, the term “migrant child” means a child who meets the definition in sec. 1309(2) of Title 1, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – that is, one who has been identified and documented as an eligible migrant child by your State Migrant Education Program (MEP).

All States – MSIX HEP-CAMP Dear Colleague Letter – 6 3 2011

This memorandum responds to several questions received by the Office of Migrant Education (OME) regarding whether States may grant access to the Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX) to grantees of the High School Equivalency Program (HEP), College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), or Head Start Program (Head Start).

All States – MSIX Regulations Dear Colleague Letter – 10 13 2016

This memorandum addresses the publication of a notice of final regulations in the Federal Register, to implement the Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX). MSIX is an electronic records exchange mechanism that ED has developed to implement a requirement in section 1308 of Title I, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by both the No Child Left Behind Act and Every Student Succeeds Act. The ESEA requires States to collect and submit to the system basic educational and health information (the established minimum data elements, or “MEDs”) on all migrant students. As a condition of receiving Migrant Education Program (MEP) funds, these regulations require each State educational agency (SEA) to collect, maintain, and submit this minimum information to MSIX within time frames specified in the regulations. The regulations became effective on June 9, 2016.

Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR)

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal government. The code is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to federal regulation. Title 34 of the CFR, which pertains to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and related Federal entities, is composed of several hundred parts. Parts 74-99 of that title are collectively known as the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). These parts contain regulations for administering discretionary and formula grants awarded by ED.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

MEP Policy Guidance document (Introduction and Chapter II Updated March 2017)

This document's introduction, along with Chapter II: Child Eligibility, were revised to reflect considerations of changes to the program enacted in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). With the exception of replacing Chapter II, all other chapters remain unchanged from the non-regulatory guidance document that the Department published on October 23, 2003. Any future chapter revisions will be identified in the chapter title by the date of revision. Therefore, guidance outside of Chapter II may be superseded by changes in the reauthorized ESEA, although much of the guidance remains applicable under the ESSA.

This document is designed to help SEAs and LOAs use MEP funds to develop and implement supplemental educational and support services to assist migratory children. This guidance does not impose requirements beyond those in the ESEA and other Federal statutes and regulations that apply to the MEP. It also does not create or confer any rights for or on any person. While States may wish to consider the guidance, they are free to develop their own approaches that are consistent with applicable Federal statutes and regulations. The guidance in this document is not intended to be prescriptive or exhaustive. This document is one of many resources for SEAs and LOAs to use as they determine how best to meet the needs of migratory children in a manner consistent with the requirements of the ESEA and the MEP regulations. It is intended to be read in conjunction with the authorizing statute, applicable regulations, and the Department’s guidance on other programs (such as Title I, Part A, and Title III) that are relevant to the MEP.

States are responsible for making decisions about how best to implement and operate the MEP. It is critical that staff at the SEA and local levels realize that they should not continue practices simply because they are based on long-standing policy. Looking beyond what programs have done in the past to what they can do in the future to improve teaching and learning for all children is the biggest challenge of educational reform. SEAs and LOAs are encouraged to adopt new ideas and practices (particularly those grounded in research and evidence of success) to enable migratory children to succeed in school.

The Office of Migrant Education (OME) has developed responses to questions we have received about the Migrant Education Program (MEP). The MEP Policy Q&As contain responses that are intended to address specific scenarios as well as help States think through situations they might encounter. Policy responses are a complement to the Non-Regulatory Guidance (NRG), and like the NRG, are provided as a resource for States in considering how best to administer and operate the MEP. States have the authority to adopt policies and procedures different from those adopted by OME, as long as those policies and procedures comport with the statute and regulations.

OME encourages local MEP staff to contact their State MEP personnel before submitting questions to OME. Questions submitted to OME should be directed to the State's MEP Program Officer. (Program Officers are listed in the State Profiles section for each State).

Visit the new MEP Policy Q&A's page where you can search and filter Q&A's by topic.

National COE Form and Instructions

On June 16, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) extended its approval of the information collection requirements associated with the National COE, for use through June 30, 2023. States have been given certain flexibility in meeting the requirements of the national COE and therefore should read the instructions carefully as they implement the requirements. The national COE is comprised of three parts:

  1. Required Data Elements, which States can organize according to State preference and need. Required Data Elements must be worded as they appear in the instructions, and cannot be changed or shortened, with specific exceptions noted;
  2. Required Data Sections, which States can place according to State preference and need, but that must be maintained in whole and unaltered, with specific exceptions noted; and
  3. State Required/Requested information, where space is available, that States can use to collect other data. State-specific required/requested information may be placed anywhere on the COE, except inside any of the Required Data sections. States may choose their own header (e.g., State name) on the COE, as long as it identifies the form as the Certificate of Eligibility. States may also include their State logos or seals.

Note: States must maintain any additional documentation the SEA requires to confirm that each child found eligible for the program meets all of the eligibility definitions. State responsibilities for documenting the eligibility of migratory children are found in 34 C.F.R. § 200.89(c).

National Certificate of Eligibility, MS-Doc

National Certificate of Eligibility, PDF

OMB Circular A-133

This Circular is issued pursuant to the Single Audit Act of 1984, P.L. 98-502, and the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996, P.L. 104-156. It sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies for the audit of States, local governments, and non-profit organizations expending Federal awards.

US Department of Education Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards

The Uniform Guidance (2 CFR § 200) streamlines and consolidates government requirements for receiving and using federal awards so as to reduce administrative burden and improve outcomes. It was published in the Federal Register (79 Fed. Reg. 75871) on December 19, 2014, and became effective for new and continuation awards issued on or after December 26, 2014. Please note the new regulations do not affect grant funds awarded prior to December 26, 2014, unless funds made available under those grants are carried forward into a new Federal fiscal year or a continuation grant.

Related Information

For additional information on the Migrant Education Program (MEP) and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), visit the Department of Education's site.

View MEP Policy Q&As. Search and filter by topic. View the most current information and resources on ESSA