What Does School Re-Enrollment Entail?

Hurricane Harvey completely destroyed all of the buildings that housed the Aransas Independent School District (ISD).  This natural disaster not only forced these schools to indefinitely close, but also left 450 students without anywhere to attend school. However, merely 20 miles away, Flour Bluff ISD enrolled every one of those 450 students. In fact, similar accommodations are taking place across the state via neighboring schools welcoming students who have been displaced by Harvey to their community.

“Whenever they decide, when they get back to the area, our doors will be open,” Flour Bluff ISD spokeswoman Kim Sneed said. “We will take kids at any time.”

Without subjecting these students and/or their families to truancy court, the state of Texas is providing these families a “reasonable period of time” in order to decide whether they wish to enroll their children in these new schools or wait to see if their old school, or one closer to home, will reopen soon.

As Texas Education Agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson points out, “In terms of a parent making a decision, that’s going to be based on a personal need and a personal situation.”

Culbertson advises if parents are going to be temporarily relocated across the state for a few months, then it might be wise for their student to attend school there.  The other options would entail homeschooling, or virtual schooling your children.

In these circumstances:

  • Federal law mandates that school districts are required to enroll students, who have been displaced by a natural disaster, as well as to provide said students with free meals.
  • Should the student’s parents decide that he/she will remain in his/her school district, then he/she must be provided with transportation.
  • Although, if a student decides to attend a different school district, that student is not required to receive transportation assistance.
  • Title 1 funds can be used by school districts, in order to procure essential school materials, like uniforms, vaccinations, medical supplies, if no other funding is available.

Fortunately, for Flour Bluff ISD, the damage that its campus sustained is relatively simple to repair.  The district’s maintenance staff spent two days cleaning up the water and repairing the school’s electrical system. Various Port Aransas families have already relocated their children to a different school in Texas.  According to Sneed, the state will have to wait and see how many students end up where, before the state can determine whether or not it will need to allocate more resources to school buses and/or hiring more teachers for the school year.

Following assessments of the damage sustained by Houston ISD, the most populous school district to be affected by Harvey ,was forced to delay its school reopening date until September 11.  As The Houston Chronicle determined, 35 campuses had been damaged. In addition, Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza told his principles that seven campuses must find a new space to have classes or, even worse, be forced to start school even later.

Even worse the Klein ISD, which is just north of Houston, only has one elementary school that remains structurally sound.

Across Texas, superintendents are encouraging parents, who have yet to return home, to temporarily enroll their children in their new local school district. Besides the student’s name and date of birth, the enrollment process also collects the student’s identification number, which allows the new school to determine what special accommodations the student received at their previous school.

For students and their families, who evacuated early and are staying with friends and/or family members, the school districts are attempting to place these students as close to their temporary residences as possible.  The primary difficulty, in terms of re-enrolling these students, is that there is no definitive number of just how many students were evacuated and where they were all relocated.  

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