GOVERNOR BUSH AND EDUCATION COMMISSIONER WINN ANNOUNCE PLAN TO ASSIST SCHOOLS IMPACTED BY HURRICANE WILMA
Governor Jeb Bush today announced that public schools in counties most affected by Hurricane Wilma will receive waivers from the Department of Education (DOE) on a variety of issues, including compliance with class size requirements, flexibility on the required number of school days, suspension of immunization requirements, and eligibility for McKay and Opportunity Scholarships.
"Continuity in the wake of a hurricane is critical for returning community life to normal," said Governor Bush. "The Supplemental Order I signed today provides school districts with support and needed flexibility to provide educational services for students affected by Hurricane Wilma."
Supplemental Order 05-219 grants the authority for the Department of Education to waive certain rules:
Ø To the extent caused by Hurricane Wilma, school districts unable to meet class size requirements for this school year will not be considered in noncompliance.
Ø School districts unable to open on their normal schedule or that lost school days because of Hurricane Wilma, and did not have extra days in their schedule to constitute makeup days, can request a waiver from the 180-day school year requirement.
Ø Students will not lose eligibility for McKay, Opportunity and Corporate Tax Credit Scholarships if re-enrolling in a public school because of hurricane damage to the private school they attended.
Ø Superintendents may determine whether using a facility to temporarily deal with the results of Hurricane Wilma does not present a danger to students or staff. The Department of Education must be notified should the superintendent make such a determination.
Ø The Department of Education will coordinate with school districts and local education authorities to obtain a waiver for any necessary federal statutes, rules or regulations.
Ø The Department of Education may waive timelines for reports, applications, contracts or grants for individuals or entities in the impacted areas.
Ø School entry health examinations and requirements for immunization are suspended for thirty days for students in declared disaster areas to the extent attributable to Hurricane Wilma.
"After last year's hurricane season, we learned that students showed tremendous resolve in dealing with the hardships caused by the storms," said Education Commissioner John L. Winn. "We will continue to work with school districts to restore a sense of normalcy that allows students to focus on learning."
In seeking any waivers, school districts must support requests with appropriate documentation. Since the recovery process is on-going, further needs for waivers and adjustments to rules and statutes may be made during recovery operations. For the most up-to-date hurricane information and Florida's schools, please visit www.fldoe.org .