Louisiana seeks schools for displaced students
Teachers urged to work in areas where they're taking shelter
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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) -- Louisiana's education superintendent has asked school districts across the state to accommodate thousands of students displaced by Hurricane Katrina and urged displaced teachers to apply for work in the areas where they have taken shelter.
The state's Education Department said the hurricane has destroyed or damaged schools in at least six parishes, prompting more than 135,000 students to find temporary alternatives.
In a statement issued Wednesday on the department's Web site, Superintendent Cecil Picard urged superintendents around the state "to take these children in."
"We will worry about school records, funding, payrolls and waivers," Picard said. "Let us work out those details. Right now I need parents and school systems to make sure these children have the stability of a classroom as soon as possible."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry offered to accommodate students who come into his state from the affected areas.
"I want stranded families to know the doors of Texas' public schools are immediately open to your school-age children," Perry said.
"I also want school leaders to know that we realize this will put a strain on their capacity, so I have asked the Texas Education Agency to work with them to make sure they have the textbooks they need, funding for transportation and the free- and reduced-lunch program and class-size waivers as needed."
Texas Education Commissioner Shirley J. Neeley said children whose families have moved to Texas temporarily because of the hurricane "will generally meet the definition of 'homeless' under the federal McKinney-Ventro Act. This federal law entitles them to enroll in the school district in which they are physically present without having to document residency in the district."
Louisiana's Picard also told displaced teachers "to apply for work in the school system in which they are taking shelter."
If they can't work, Picard reminded them that they "are eligible for temporary unemployment benefits."
He said the department and superintendents are working "to get all payroll systems up and running again."
The superintendent urged "businesses and churches to provide space for temporary classrooms, especially in East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Lafayette and Caddo parishes where large shelters are now up and running."
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