NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Hurricane Harvey roared ashore in southeast Texas two weeks ago, leaving a path of damaged and destroyed schools in its wake. While most Texas schools will finally open their doors this week, many others remain shuttered while cleanup and decontamination continue.
But unlike its equally disruptive peer, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, most students impacted by Harvey will likely remain in Texas. State education officials lifted red tape to allow students to easily enroll in other schools, and non-impacted districts stepped in quickly to accept displaced students.
Even so, Fulton School System leaders are prepared to quickly accept any students from Texas, dusting off the plan the system used in the aftermath of Katrina.
“The Georgia Department of Education has provided guidance to us, which is being passed on to local schools, for how to accept and enroll displaced students from Texas or Louisiana who are moving to Georgia due to Hurricane Harvey,” said Susan Hale, spokesperson for the Fulton School System.
She noted those directions include enrolling new students with incomplete paperwork since many homes and schools may not be available to provide typical registration documents.
After Katrina, nearly 1,500 students from New Orleans enrolled in Fulton County schools, with nearly 1,000 of them remaining in the system permanently. The surge in new students strained the district’s budget, although some of the expenses were covered by the federal government as part of the “impact aid” reimbursement approved after Katrina.
Hale said the system is also keeping tabs on Hurricane Irma, which could also send new students over the border into Georgia after it passes through the state this week.
“GDOE has not yet sent information about students displaced from Florida,” said Hale. “At present, I don’t have any figures on how many students we may [be enrolling] due to Harvey or Irma.”