Hurricane Harvey Keeps Kids from Attending Their Own School Districts

When Hurricane Harvey flooded schools in its path, parents with children in coastal school districts are being forced to confront the question of how long to wait before they enrolling their child in another school.

Students and their families have a “reasonable amount of time” to determine whether or not re-enrollment in the same school district is a feasible option, without the risk of being penalized, according to the state of Texas.

When it comes to school districts that will not be able to reopen in the next few weeks, the Texas Education Agency is handling these cases individually.

According to federal laws, students are considered to be homeless if they are staying with friends and/or relatives, sleeping in shelters, or in another form of temporary housing. Therefore, these students who evacuated their homes for Hurricane Harvey are currently able to immediately enroll in any Texas school district, while also being referred to any specific programs that they and/or their families might require, which include mental health and/or housing services.

When it comes to the few school districts that are actually able to reopen after the storm, some of the school buildings have been damaged beyond the point of repair.

According to reports that have been published by The Houston Chronicle, for the Houston Independent School District (ISD) alone, at least 10,000 students need to attend another campus than their assigned. Standing water has not yet dissipated in 200 schools.

In terms of putting actual faces and names to this issue, The Texas Tribune would like to hear from families that have been displaced by Harvey and are attempting to place their children back in school. In addition to general questions, like your name, phone number, email and physical address, and hometown, specific questions in the survey include:

  • When and why did you make the decision to stay in or leave your home district?
  • What services does your child need to succeed?
  • What is the name of your child’s home school district or charter school?
  • Did your child lose his or her housing because of Hurricane Harvey?
  • Do you plan to move back to your home? Why or why not?
  • If your home school district is open and accepting students, have you already enrolled your child there? If not, do you plan to?
  • Did your child ride the school bus in his or her home district?
  • Tell us anything we need to know about navigating the education system as a Harvey evacuee.  Is there anything else we should know?
  • Would you be willing to chat more about your experience with a Texas Tribune reporter?

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