FAQ: Education Services for Students Evacuated Due to Hurricanes or Other Weather Related Disasters
- Enrollment and Service to Homeless Students
- Immunization Requirements
- PEIMS Coding
- Students with Special Needs
- Assessment (Statewide Testing)
- Teacher/Student Ratio (22 to 1)
- Child Nutrition
- Emergency School Board Meeting
- Accountability Issues
- Migrant Student Issues
- Staffing Issues
- Bilingual / ESL
- Missed Instructional Days / Low Attendance Days
1. Enrollment and Services to Homeless Students
a. Should Texas students enroll elsewhere if their home district is closed?
The answer to this question is depends on individual situations. Parents may wish to wait until the circumstances of their local school district and their housing become better known and should be allowed a week to ten days to make those decisions.
If a family is living in circumstances described in the definition of “homeless children and youths” in 42 U.S.C. §11434a(2)(B)(i) because of loss of the use their home due to the hurricane, the children are homeless under the federal McKinney-Vento Act and can immediately enroll elsewhere. As homeless students, these students are eligible for free-lunch programs.
If your school district is closed but will reopen under an adjusted calendar and the child’s home is habitable, the child is not homeless simply because his/her school district is forced to follow a different calendar. If, however, the child in this situation enrolls in another district and then returns to his/her home district when it reopens, the child will follow the district's adjusted calendar and may ultimately go to school longer than 180 days. This situation is no different than when a child moves from one district to another during a normal family move.
b. What are the kindergarten and pre-kindergarten eligibility criteria for incoming homeless students?
A student is entitled to enroll in kindergarten if the student is 5 years of age or older on September 1 of the school year. Thus, a district will only receive full-day ADA for students who meet this criterion.
Children who are pre-kindergarten age on September 1 who become homeless are eligible for pre-kindergarten services under Section 29.153, Texas Education Code (TEC). A school district or charter school may choose to place a pre-kindergarten eligible student in a grade level other than prekindergarten, but state funding in that instance will be provided on a half-day basis only. Young children with disabilities ages 3-5 are eligible for special education services upon their 3rd birthday regardless of the date. Upon enrollment, an IEP team will determine student services.
Young children with disabilities ages 3-5 are eligible for special education services upon their 3rd birthday regardless of the date. Upon enrollment, an IEP team will determine student services.
c. May incoming homeless students be served separately from resident students?
Please remember that federal law prohibits segregating homeless students from the general population. Separate “shelter schools” cannot be used to provide services to homeless students except in very limited circumstances. The McKinney-Vento Act does allow some services to be provided “for short periods of time” to deal with health and safety emergencies or to provide “temporary, special, and supplementary services to meet the unique needs of homeless children.” Such arrangements may be utilized for short-term services, but students expected to remain in the district for a significant period of time should be incorporated into the general population.
d. What policies should districts follow in determining that these are truly hurricane evacuees?
A school district or charter school may make reasonable inquiries to establish that a student is homeless. A student who is staying in a shelter or who recently began sharing space with relatives due to being displaced by the hurricane qualifies as homeless. It is reasonable to accept identification showing that the parent is from the areas evacuated as evidence that a student is an evacuee eligible for services as a homeless student. A utility bill or similar documentation should not be required under these circumstances.
e. What transportation requirements apply to homeless students?
Under current state law, school districts are funded for transportation based on the prior year. Districts that transport eligible homeless students during a school year will receive transportation funding for those additional transportation services at settle-up, which occurs in the fall following the close of the school year. An eligible homeless student rider must be a child or youth who has been identified by the district’s homeless coordinator as meeting the criteria established in Public Law 107–110, Title X, Part C, Section 725(2), titled the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvement Act (also the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Title X, Part C), and is being transported back to the school of origin/last campus attended. The location where the homeless student is residing at the time the student is classified as homeless, must be a location that is two or more miles from the campus to which the student is being transported (school of origin/last campus attended) or in a district school board-designated hazardous traffic area within two miles of the campus. Questions regarding classification of a student as homeless should be made to the Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO).
f. Is Title I, Part A required to provide services to these students in homeless situations caused by the hurricane like any other homeless student?
Yes. All homeless students, including those students who meet the definition as a result of evacuating their homes due to the hurricane, must be served with Title I, Part A funds regardless of the campus they attend. Students enrolling in Title I-served campuses will receive their Title I services through the schoolwide or targeted assistance program on that campus. Students enrolling in non-Title I campuses are to receive Title I, Part A services from the district’s homeless student reservation.
g. If the district now has more students in homeless situations caused by the hurricane qualifying for Title I services on non-Title I campuses than the original reservation will fund, can the district amend its Consolidated NCLB application to increase the reservation?
h. What if the district has not received a NOGA on the Consolidated NCLB application and therefore, is not able to submit the amendment in the eGrants system?
To expedite an amendment that is necessary due to an increased enrollment of homeless students caused by the hurricane, the Agency will allow districts to follow the process outlined below in order to be able to provide necessary services.
The district will print the necessary schedules needing amending from the NCLB web site and complete them by hand in black ink.
The district will then fax the amended schedules and a signed assurance (provided on the NCLB web site) to the Division of NCLB Program Coordination.
NCLB Program Coordination staff will ensure the amendment is allowable and fax an approved “stamp-in” date back to the district as its auditable documentation for the amendment.
The district will amend the schedules and submit the amendment electronically through eGrants within 30 days of receipt of the NOGA to the original application.
i. What types of activities or services are allowable uses of federal NCLB funds to assist these students in homeless situations caused by the hurricane?
Title I, Part A — All the students must be served with Title I, Part A funds regardless of the campus attended. The students may receive any traditional instructional services, as well as other non-traditional types of Title I services. The district should meet the needs of the student.
Title I, Part C — Migrant — While the move across school district lines in Texas as a result of the hurricane is not a qualifying move, if the student was identified as Migrant in his/her home LEA, the student is still eligible for any Migrant services while enrolled in a Texas school district.
Title II, Part A — The district may need to update its needs assessment. Changes in enrollments may have caused a need for hiring additional highly qualified teachers to reduce class size under Title II, Part A.
Title III, Part A — The district may need to update its needs assessment. Changes in enrollments may have caused a need for more language acquisition instructional programs, including hiring teachers and paraprofessionals in this area. The district may wish to redirect some Title III, Part A funds from professional development activities to language acquisition instructional services.
j. What types of non-traditional Title I services are allowable to the students in homeless situations caused by the hurricane?
An LEA may use funds reserved under P. L. 107-110, Section 1113(c)(3)(A) to provide services to eligible homeless students in both Title I and non-Title I schools that are comparable to services provided to non-homeless students in Title I schools. Services provided should assist such students in meeting the State's challenging academic content and academic achievement standards.
An LEA has the discretion to use reserved funds to provide a homeless student with services that are not ordinarily provided to other Title I students and that are not available from other sources. USDE has stated that there is a difference between what Title I funds can support for homeless students compared with other Title I students.
In general, provided funds are not reasonably available from other public or private sources to provide such services, the district may use Title I, Part A funds for the following types of services to meet these students’ needs:
The following expenses may not be paid using McKinney-Vento or Title I, Part A funds:
k. Will additional NCLB funding be provided to cover additional costs associated with identifying and serving these students in homeless situations caused by the hurricane?
At this time, we are not aware of additional funds that will be provided either by the state or federal government.
l. What additional resources are available related to serving students in homeless situations caused by the hurricane?
Several resources are available at the following links:
Guidance for the Implementation of Title I, Part A—Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Education Agencies, questions 16, 39, 89, 109, and 142.
Guidance for the Implementation of Title X, Part C—McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act, Services to Children and Youth in Homeless Situations, questions 1-45.
Texas Homeless Education Office Resources
a. How should a district or charter school enforce immunization requirements?
Students who are transferring from another Texas school as well as homeless students have 30 days from the date of enrollment to provide immunization records or for the records to be transferred. Immunization records may be transferred through TREx along with other school records. Schools are required to refer homeless students to appropriate public health programs to obtain required vaccinations if necessary. For additional information regarding immunizations, visit the Department of State Health Services Immunization Requirements page.
a. May public officials conducting disaster relief activities be given access to student records?
Under certain circumstances, records may be released in emergency situations without consent. Additional information is available in this Family Policy Compliance Office document (PDF) on disclosures related to emergencies and disasters.
b. May school districts and charter schools release the names of hurricane victims who have enrolled in Texas schools to reporters or others who do not need the information for health and safety related purposes?
No. Although student names may be “directory information” under FERPA, directory information may not be released in a manner that reveals information that is not directory, such as whether a student is “homeless”. School districts and charter schools are always encouraged to consult with their legal counsel before releasing information from student records.
4. PEIMS Coding
a. How are incoming students from other states to be coded in PEIMS?
Students arriving from disaster areas and staying in the area of Texas public school districts are enrolled as if they are districts residents. Generally, they are coded on the 101 STUDENT DATA –DEMOGRAPHIC record, E1000 STUDENT ATTRIBUTION CODE as if they are residents. The students are eligible for funding and are coded on the 110 STUDENT DATA – ENROLLMENT record, E0787 ADA ELIGIBLITY following the usual guidelines for ADA eligibility outlined in the Student Attendance Accounting Handbook.
b. For hurricane evacuees that are enrolling in public school, what student identification number should be used for school enrollment?
Appropriate district staff should first check the identification information (name, date of birth, and student ID number), submitted on the student enrollment application, against the PID/PET databases to obtain the student identification number that has already been reported for the student by another district. Giving the student a new identification number when one already exists for this student in the TEA databases will create a second unique PID entry for the student and lead to a PID error that will be displayed on a PID/PET discrepancy report for the district. If a school is enrolling an evacuee student from out of state and/or there is no Texas public school data history for the student, then the school district will have to enroll the student using the information on the student enrollment application until records can be obtained from the prior school to verify the identification information offered.
5. Students with Special Needs
a. What services will children with special needs be eligible to receive?
A school district or charter school should make every effort to ensure that students eligible to participate in special education, gifted and talented, bilingual or ESL programs receive those services. Additional services may be provided through the district/campus Title I program. Further, any student who is in a homeless situation is covered by the federal McKinney-Vento Act and is eligible to receive free school meals.
6. Student Assessment (Statewide Testing Including TAKS)
a. Will incoming evacuee students be required to take statewide assessments including the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) on scheduled testing dates?
Evacuated students who are enrolled in Texas public schools are expected to participate in the Texas assessment program in the same manner and to the same extent as resident public school students.
b. How will the October exit level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) retests be affected by the displacement of students from certain Texas districts and from other states?
October exit level TAKS retests will be administered on schedule.
c. What should we do if our district is closed and we are unable to receive testing materials that are already scheduled to be shipped soon by the state's contractor?
Pearson will hold materials for districts in areas known to be impacted. These materials will be held pending notification from you that your district is accepting deliveries at the address on record with Pearson.
Please email Pearson Support or call Pearson's Austin Operations Center at 800-252-9186 as soon as possible to provide updated information on the status of your district's ability to receive shipments.
7. Teacher – Student Ratio (22 to 1)
a. What options does a school district have with respect to the 22-to-1 student/teacher ratio?
A school district with a significant influx of students due to a hurricane may obtain a waiver of the 22-to-1 student/teacher ratio requirements by notifying the agency of the need. There is no requirement to formally apply beyond the conditions referenced in the commissioner's letter of July 5, 2010 regarding issues related to the hurricane. Districts will be asked to maintain documentation of the need for a waiver and track when a waiver is no longer necessary. Districts may provide notice by e-mailing, faxing, or mailing a short statement indicating intent as follows:
Fax: (512) 463-8317
ATTN: Philip Cochran
Texas Education Agency
1701 North Congress Avenue, Suite 2 - 137
Austin, TX 78701
a. Will these students be subject to truancy laws at some point?
All school-age individuals are subject to compulsory attendance. However, evacuated students should be given a reasonable period of time to determine whether they will be returning to their former school district, or will enroll in another district. Truancy charges should not be filed until that determination
can be made.
9. Child Nutrition
a. Will school districts and charter schools receive additional lunch program support for these students?
A district with a significant influx of students may increase its entitlement under the federal free and reduced-price lunch program automatically to the extent the students qualify as homeless. For additional information regarding child nutrition, visit the Square Meals website.
10. Emergency School Board Meetings
a. Can our school board hold an emergency meeting?
The Texas Open Meetings Act allows emergency meetings in response to circumstances that constitute an imminent threat to public health and safety or reasonably unforeseen circumstances. Emergency meetings may be held by telephone conference if convening a quorum in one location is difficult or impossible. Information about open meetings is available on the Texas Attorney General’s website -- Texas Open Meetings Handbook 2010.
Both emergency and telephonic meetings are possible under emergency conditions (see pages 35-37 and 23-24, respectively). You should consult with local counsel to determine whether your circumstances warrant use of an emergency or telephonic meeting.
a. How do I report textbooks that were damaged due to a Hurricane?
The textbook coordinator will report damaged textbooks in the EMAT system on form TEX-012, Destroyed Textbook Report. Districts must complete the report of damaged textbooks as soon as possible but not later than 60 days after the loss of textbooks. Only one report per occurrence should be submitted. When completing the TEX-012, choose “other” from the drop-down box that indicates how the textbooks were damaged and then type the hurricane name in the description field. The form may be sent by fax to (512) 475-3612 or mailed to the Texas Education Agency, Instructional Materials and Educational Technology, 1701 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701.
Braille and large print textbooks will be reported as damaged in the EMAT system on form TEX-012, Destroyed Textbook Report. Districts must complete the report of damaged special textbooks as soon as possible but not later than 60 days after the loss of textbooks. Only one report per occurrence should be submitted. When completing the TEX-012, choose “other” from the drop-down box that indicates how the textbooks were damaged and then type the hurricane name in the description field. The form may be sent by fax to (512) 475-3612 or mailed to the Texas Education Agency, Instructional Materials and Educational Technology, 1701 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701.
b. What do we do with the books that were damaged?
Districts must dispose of the damaged books locally.
c. Once districts report on textbooks that have been damaged or destroyed, how do districts order replacement textbooks?
To order replacement textbooks, the district must submit a “Special Disaster” requisition in the EMAT System. Detailed instructions would be sent to districts and charter schools in a statewide broadcast message in the EMAT System.
12. Accountability Issues
a. How will the performance of students displaced by a hurricane affect state and federal accountability ratings?
For both state accountability ratings and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), accountability decisions will go through established decision-making processes. For state accountability, this process includes an Educator Focus Group and the Commissioner's Accountability Advisory Committee both of which meet in the spring. Final decisions will be announced upon completion of this process. For AYP specific changes are reviewed by the Texas Title I Committee of Practitioners and submitted for approval to the USDE in the spring.
13. Migrant Student Issues
a. Should migrant recruiters attempt to locate and identify potentially eligible migrant students among the newly-arriving students displaced by a hurricane?
Yes, this should be done upon school enrollment
b. How should migrant recruiters attempt to identify and recruit these families?
As always, use the various strategies outlined in the 2010-11 Texas Manual for the Identification and Recruitment of Migrant Students. Examples are distributing the migrant-specific surveys, posting flyers at food banks and grocery stores, visiting clinics, and referrals through emergency aid organizations.
c. Why should LEAs and ESCs attempt to locate and identify potentially eligible migrant families?
LEAs (project districts) and ESCs (non-project districts and Shared Service Arrangements) must attempt to locate and identify families who are eligible for migrant services in order to continue those services that may have been in place in their home states as well as to connect families to instructional and social services for which they are eligible.
d. If the family is identified as migrant, what should the current address be on the COE if the family is living in a shelter or emergency housing?
The recruiter should record the name and the address of the shelter or temporary housing where the family is currently residing, i.e., YMCA, 312 Pine St.
e. What information should be entered on the New Generation System (NGS) for these migrant students?
All COE information and any other available data that is outlined in the 2010-2011 Texas Manual for NGS Data Management Requirements.
14. Staffing Issues
a. Can a school district that is closed due to a hurricane continue to pay its teachers?
The Texas Constitution generally prohibits payments to staff beyond those that are legally required by the employment contract or agreement. However, two options are possible in extreme circumstances like a hurricane. Under emergency circumstances, a school district may apply to shorten the required number of days of service by a contract employee under Section 21.401 of the Education Code to coincide with a shortened district calendar. Districts should carefully consider this option to be sure that necessary services will still be required by the contract when school reopens. Alternatively, as an example after Hurricane Rita some districts passed resolutions determining that the district itself benefited from employee retention and paid contract and hourly staff on that basis. Either option should first be reviewed with local counsel and in light of local contract provisions and employment policies.
15. Bilingual / ESL
a. Will we be given an extension for completing the initial Language Proficiency Assessment Committee responsibilities?
YES. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) provided clarification for the four weeks as being 20 school days in the Language Proficiency Assessment Committee Framework Manual under the following sections: Home Language Survey, page 59; Responsibilities, page 64; Parent Notification, page 67; Placement, page 68. The sections stated above reference when a student enrolls in school and indicates a language other than English on the Home Language Survey, the LPAC’s time requirements begin. Within four weeks of enrollment (or 20 school days), the LPAC should review documentation of the student’s language proficiency and academic status, and recommend placement in a Bilingual or English as a second language (ESL) program as required by state law. Parental permission must be acquired within the 20-day period. The LPAC must also recommend instructional methods and interventions and determine the state criterion-referenced assessment options at the appropriate time. If the parent denies the program, the LPAC may recommend the general education classroom. Since four weeks or 20 days actually means school days, then all the school districts that have suffered this natural disaster would have sufficient time to complete the requirements of the LPAC as stated in Texas Education Code 29.053 (b) due to the fact that those four weeks or 20 days are the number of days the school districts actually hold school.
b. The exceptions to the bilingual program and waivers to the ESL program forms are usually due to the agency on October 1. Will TEA approve an extension in submitting these forms?
The Texas Education Agency will provide sufficient time for those districts which suffer from a disaster and need to file and exception to the bilingual program or a waiver to the ESL program to submit those forms to the agency.
c. We had a family of evacuees from a hurricane registering this morning at our school and they are living with somebody from our school. They said that their child was already attending school in the disaster area receiving Bilingual program services, but did not bring any records with them. We tried to call the school, but the schools are closed. What do we do?
The district should place them in bilingual programs if the district offers one and requests documentation when the school opens and if the student is planning to stay. If no documentation is available then the district should proceed as if this was an initial enrollment in Texas schools.
d. If the district chooses to redirect Title III, Part A funding to hire teachers or paraprofessionals, are there any limitations on those staff?
Yes, Title III, Part A statute only allows expenditures for instructional and professional development costs that are reasonable and necessary for improving the English proficiency and academic achievement of LEP children. In addition, the non-supplanting requirement in Title III, Part A statute requires that funds not be used to pay for costs that, in the absence of the Title III program, would have been paid for with other state, local, or other federal funds. Therefore, teachers or paraprofessionals hired under Title III, Part A may serve only current LEP children and must be utilized for supplemental services only, such as supplemental tutoring or additional instruction outside of the regular classroom.
16. Missed Instructional Days / Low Attendance Days
a. What waivers will be available to districts and charter schools closed or operating with low student attendance because of hurricane conditions?
School districts and charter schools closed or operating with low attendance due to hurricanes may apply to the commissioner for two specific waivers. Those waivers are for Missed Instructional Days and/or Low Attendance Days due to hurricane. These waiver applications are found on the TEA State Waiver Applications page. Districts will have until Friday, June 24, 2011 to submit these school board approved waiver applications to the Texas Education Agency.
Email Mike.Peebles@tea.state.tx.us with any questions you may have.