Mrs. Bush, Secretary Spellings Visit Iowa and Mississippi, Discuss Efforts to Help Displaced Students
Hurricane Help for Schools to help displaced students
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September 8, 2005
Contacts: Susan Aspey, Sarah Sauber
(202) 401-1576

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Mrs. Laura Bush and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today visited two schools and a church that is providing shelter to families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Mrs. Bush and the Secretary spent the morning at Lovejoy Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa, to discuss what schools outside the affected areas can do to help students and families displaced by the hurricane and to make a surprise announcement to the Iowa Star of Teaching.

Mrs. Bush and Secretary Spellings also visited Greenbrook Elementary School in Southaven, Miss., where they talked to students and teachers. Greenbrook Elementary School has already taken in students displaced by the hurricane. They also talked to displaced families staying at Goodman Oaks Church of Christ, which was one of the first places that opened their doors to survivors of the hurricane.

In both Iowa and Mississippi, Mrs. Bush and the Secretary discussed efforts underway to get displaced children into school and adjusted to new surroundings. They also encouraged displaced families who haven't yet enrolled their children in school to do so.

"To help children affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Education has developed the 'Hurricane Help for Schools' interactive website," Mrs. Bush said. "Schools enrolling displaced students may post assistance needs such as additional teachers, curriculum materials, school supplies and clothes on the site; then, businesses, individuals and organizations may make donations to the schools requesting the items. It is a great way to help kids in need."

"Across the country, we are seeing families, communities and schools open their hearts and doors to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina," Secretary Spellings said. "We are committed to doing everything we can to help as local communities enroll these children in new schools. We must try to restore some sense of structure to their lives as quickly as possible. And that includes helping schools accommodate these new students, who will need books, clothes and other supplies."

Hurricane Help for Schools can be accessed through the Department of Education's Web site——and will serve as a clearinghouse of resources for Americans who want to help the students displaced by the hurricane. The Web page is a forum where schools, companies and organizations across the country can come together and work to help students displaced by the hurricane. Companies and organizations can respond to the needs of students and send resources directly to them, and schools will be able to directly contact the companies and organizations offering help.

In addition to the Web page, Secretary Spellings is leading a number of efforts to help the students affected by the hurricane, and recently announced the following:

  • A task force meeting of over 50 national education leaders took place to coordinate and deploy resources, and the Department is in continuous contact with state and local education leaders to provide guidance and support.
  • Student loan borrowers living in affected areas may delay payments on their loans without penalty, and deadlines for applying to a number of higher education programs have been extended until at least Dec. 1, 2005.
  • The Department is examining ways to redirect existing funds toward relief efforts, and is working closely with Congress to best meet the needs of children, families and schools affected by this tragedy.
  • On a case-specific basis, the Department of Education will be flexible with certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act for affected states.



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Last Modified: 09/12/2005