In response to Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has announced her intention to seek permission from Congress to waive the educational rights of homeless children and youth under the McKinney-Vento Act.
The McKinney-Vento Act has opened the doors of public schools to hundreds of thousands of children displaced from Hurricane Katrina. The Act has enabled these and other children experiencing homelessness to be immediately enrolled in school, to receive transportation to be stabilized in school, and to benefit from the resources, support, and normalcy of neighborhood schools.
Many states have worked hard to comply with the law and to give children whose lives have been disrupted by the loss of housing a regular school experience. Lafayette schools in Louisiana have enrolled and provided services to more than 3,000 children made homeless by the storm, Shreveport schools have enrolled over 1,000. Communities across Texas have integrated and supported more children, with upwards of 5,000 children being enrolled in Houston, and well over 1,000 children each in San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin.
Despite these and countless other successes, the Secretary of Education has announced that she will seek from Congress the ability to waive homeless children's educational rights in order to accommodate a handful of requests for greater flexibility.
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED: Please urge your U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative to deny Secretary Spellings request for authority to waive the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Tell them that the McKinney-Vento Act is needed now more than ever, and that children made homeless by the hurricane deserve the full protections and benefits of their education.
The timing is URGENT, as Congress will act soon. Phone calls are needed, and/or faxed letters. Please distribute this alert to as many community partners as possible, and ask them to call, too. For more information, please contact Barbara Duffield at NAEHCY at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.364.7392.
Related Post: Homeless Youth and Public Schools