Since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico dozens of students have moved to Florida from the American commonwealth and enrolled in public schools here; Pinellas County Schools says as of Tuesday, it had “27 students who registered with our district and voluntarily identified themselves as coming from Puerto Rico.” Sarasota County Public Schools has enrolled 11 students from Puerto Rico. As of last Thursday, “36 students enrolled from Puerto Rico” in the School District of Manatee County. And as of Friday, 16 students from Puerto Rico had enrolled in Polk County Public Schools. School Board member Susan L. Valdes says 49 students have come to Hillsborough County from Puerto Rico.
[Please note that in the interview Valdes says that if 1% of the population of Puerto Rico moved to Florida it would be an influx of 300,000 people. The actual number would be closer to 30,000.]
Even more students from Puerto Rico have enrolled in the Orlando area. As of Tuesday afternoon, 292 had enrolled in Orange County Schools and 148 in Osceola County.
An email from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services from late September says that “incoming Puerto Rican students displaced by Hurricane Maria can access free school meals through the National School Lunch Program.” More information: [email protected] or 1-800-504-6609.
And Governor Rick Scott announced last Thursday that Florida Virtual School would accept up to 20,000 displaced Puerto Rican students (call 863-606-8033 for more information).
Many Florida state colleges and universities are waiving out-of-state tuition and fees for students from Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricane Maria following a request by Governor Scott.
From the Florida PTA: “On Monday October 9th, 2017, Florida PTA delivered the following message to both Governor Rick Scott and Commissioner Pam Stewart. In doing so, it is the hope of Florida PTA to work alongside educators and decision makers to create a seamless transition for all students absorbed into our public schools due to the devastating crisis in Puerto Rico.”