Pennsylvania is one of the top three state hosting families displaced from Puerto Rico after hurricanes Maria and Irma. We are third behind Florida and New York, hosting families from Puerto Rico since the hurricane.
Many hosted families have young children, the majority attending schools within the Erie School District. To date, the Erie School District is educating 25 students displaced from hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Harvey. 23 students from Puerto Rico and the other two from Georgia. The students, in various grade levels, are categorized by the state as “homeless” but they all have a place to stay.
Each of the families in what’s called a “doubled-up situation,” meaning two families living together. The students are assisted by Erie’s Public Schools’ Homeless Student Liason, a position required by the state to help break down the barriers to education.
Principals at Erie High also work with the students to give them the smoothest transition possible, all depending on their situation. Co-Principal of Erie High School, Jill Crable, says, “We have some students that are new to the country that can go right into the general education classes and be as successful as possible, so we try to set up as many supports as possible prior to them coming and also, when they are first here”.
The biggest issues they deal with in these situations is transportation and clothing. District officials work with local partners to help provide clothing and can make acceptions to the rules in order to provide transportation. And, the number of students continues to grow as the district has continually gained one to two students a week since October.