Displaced Students

The devastating reality of not being able to return to Hurricane Katrina-ravaged homes is beginning to surface. This is causing several displaced families to think about enrolling their kids into schools locally.

Patti Gaines and her family have been staying in a shelter since Sunday. Realizing her Louisiana home may be completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Gaines may be making Tallahassee her new home.

Patti Gaines says, "They're going to be building that city for a long time. What are we going to do in the meantime? We have to find somewhere to live. This is a really nice place and the people here are really wonderful."

Gaines says she and her husband will look for jobs, but a major concern is getting her grandson into school. School Superintendent Bill Montford says there are already 15 displaced students enrolled in Leon County schools.

Bill Montford says, "Our principals, our guidance counselors, our teachers and others are taking these kids in and doing a wonderful job with them. I am very, very proud."

Records from the Florida Education Commission show there are almost 300 displaced students currently enrolled in Florida k through 12 public schools; six in Wakulla County and one in Dixie.

Patti adds, "He's real smart and I don't want him to lose what he has. I don't really know much about the school systems here, but everybody we've talked to says they're really good, and that's really important."

Montford says whether staying with a host family or in a shelter or hotel, all students will be welcome. Special provisions will be in place in Leon County schools for extra counseling for displaced students.