Ill. hosts displaced students

SPRINGFIELD—Nearly two weeks after Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich directed Illinois schools to waive residency requirements and immediately enroll children displaced by Hurricane Katrina, more than 400 children have enrolled in 46 school districts across the state.

Districts worked quickly to welcome children into their classrooms, and partnered with other state and local agencies to provide support for the children and their families.

Some of the students traveled to Illinois on flights arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), while others traveled to Illinois alone or with their families to stay with friends, family or in campgrounds and shelters.

“Illinois is proud to host thousands of people forced out of their homes and communities by Hurricane Katrina,” Blagojevich said. “Since we opened our doors to the hurricane’s youngest victims, more than 400 children have found places to learn and play. While their communities begin to rebuild, Illinois will continue to provide a quality education for these children—because that’s what they deserve. “

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has developed a Web page with resources for schools enrolling children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The site,, highlights the hotlines Blagojevich put in place to help hurricane victims, and lists resources available to schools and people who want to help by purchasing Hurricane Relief Student Supply Kits and Hurricane Relief Teacher Supply Kits.

To help teachers who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the Illinois State Board of Education took emergency action to help teachers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Board’s action followed calls from teachers in the Katrina damaged areas seeking the chance to teach in Illinois. The Board enacted an emergency rule that helps people who are qualified to serve as substitute teachers but who may not have immediate access to their documentation because their records were destroyed in the hurricane.

“We’ve had calls from experienced teachers in the Gulf states whose homes and classrooms have been destroyed and whose students have been evacuated,” said State Superintendent Randy Dunn. “These teachers want to work and teach children wherever they can. Our staff worked quickly on a recommendation to take to the State Board for immediate action to help these people.”

The State Board approved an emergency rule that offers individuals from the area affected by the hurricane a temporary permit for substitute teaching in Illinois schools, provided they indicate they have completed a bachelor’s degree. The rule allows the teachers to get a short-term, nonrenewable permit. It also includes flexibility to extend those certificates as needed, and a provision to withdraw a certificate if individuals either misrepresent their eligibility or disqualify themselves.

The temporary certificates will not have an application fee or a registration fee. Each applicant will undergo a criminal background check as part of the normal procedures for employment in Illinois schools.

The emergency rule goes into effect immediately and will be filed with the Secretary of State.

From the Sept. 21-27, 2005, issue

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