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Austin district prepares to enroll thousands of Harvey evacuees


Austin school district leaders are preparing to enroll students who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

It is unclear how many student evacuees the district will take in, school leaders said, the district is preparing for the possibililty of enrolling “thousands of students.”

Superintendent Paul Cruz and Austin Mayor Steve Adler Thursday morning will host a press conference discussing enrolling evacuees. The press conference will occur at 9 a.m. Thursday in the gym at LASA/LBJ High School, where evacuees have been taking shelter.

Principals already have been notified that students may begin enrolling now.

LIVE COVERAGE: Hurricane Harvey updates

“Austin ISD will continue to welcome all students, including any evacuees who are in Austin for the foreseeable future,” said Edmund Oropez, Austin district chief officer of teaching and learning. “We are doing all we can to ensure all student needs are met and that there will be minimal lapses in their school year.”

Schools pummeled by Hurricane Harvey could remain shuttered for weeks, possibly months, displacing students across the state.

Harvey forced the closure of more than 200 school districts for at least a day, but dozens continue to remain closed. Four school districts and a charter school are closed indefinitely: Port Aransas, Ingleside, Skidmore-Tynan, and Seashore Charter.

As with other major natural disasters, including wildfires in the Panhandle and hurricanes Rita and Ike, that shut down schools for weeks, districts are offered waivers by the state for days missed.

The Dallas district already has opened three adjacent schools to the mega shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center to Hurricane Harvey evacuees.

Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, parents can enroll their children in the public schools of the areas they took refuge.

“If everything is lost and they can’t get back to their homes, we suggest the parents enroll their students in the local schools,” where they are taking shelter, said DeEtta Culbertson, Texas Education Agency spokeswoman. “These kids can go ahead and start getting enrolled and go back to school and have some kind of normalcy…But basically it’s going to be determined by the parents on where their children are and what they want to do.”



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