The reality is going to be in fine South Florida fashion are thousands of tramautized Haitian children are going to dumped into the school system with mininal support and 5-7 years down the road people are going to ask WTF happened.
Schools across South Florida soon could be enrolling thousands of Haitian children who suddenly became orphans after the devastating earthquake.
The superintendents of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade schools are looking at preparing classroom space and education programs to accommodate new students, though it is still unclear how many will come.
"We will be ready to receive students if and when they show up," said Nat Harrington, an administrator directing the efforts for the Palm Beach County School District, which now has about 13,500 students of Haitian heritage in kindergarten to 12th grade. "It's going to be a challenge to meet their needs."
Superintendent Art Johnson said the impact will hinge on how the federal government coordinates the immigration of displaced Haitian children and adults. South Florida may be a destination for many because of its proximity to Haiti.
"We're not doing this independently," Johnson said, comparing the situation to emergency action after hurricanes that involves various county, state and federal agencies.
Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter said administrators are watching to see whether groups such as Catholic Charities follow through with announced plans to bring thousands of orphaned children from Haiti to the area.
The district already has examined enrollment figures to identify schools with large numbers of Haitian students, in case earthquake victims come to live with relatives in Broward, Notter said.
Palm school officials are using a similar strategy, said Facilities Management Chief Joseph Sanches.
"We expect them to go to areas where there is a large Haitian population," Sanches said. Several schools' Haitian enrollment tops 30 percent.
Students would be allowed to enroll in schools immediately, even if they don't have the documents typically required, such as previous school records, medical records or proof of residency. That's the procedure outlined under the McKinney-Vento Act for Homeless Students.
Officials are also preparing social workers, psychologists and Haitian Creole translators to dispatch to schools, Notter said. The district has about 6,300 students who were born in Haiti.
Notter said his district would seek federal money to help pay for any sudden increase in student population.
"Funding, right now, for me, is secondary," Notter said. "Get the kids stable, love them and welcome them."
The other angle is that all three school districts have had to cut back on their budget so they see this as a way of getting money.