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Public schools are required by federal law to take steps that will help homeless students get an equal education.

But what homelessness looks like is broader than families and even some schools realize. The federal definition, for instance, includes children doubling up with extended family out of economic need or living in transitional housing paid for by a charitable group.

Beth Petersen and her son experienced both types of homelessness in recent months and had to battle for school access. Follow them through a morning one school day after Petersen resolved the problem.

Beth Petersen sits on the stairs with her chin resting on her folded hands as she watches her son leaves for the school bus.

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