School & District Management

Many Texas, Louisiana Schools Remain Closed

By Christina A. Samuels & Erik W. Robelen — September 26, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

About 84,000 students from the southeastern region of Texas will be out of school for the foreseeable future, as cities such as Beaumont and Port Arthur and smaller towns surrounding those areas assess the damage caused by Hurricane Rita. The storm also forced schools to remain closed in parts of southwest Louisiana.

Debbie Graves Ratcliffe, the spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, said she had heard from a state board of education member who lives in southeast Texas that he was told not to expect electricity for a month.

“A lot of the communications are down in that region,” said Ms. Ratcliffe.

Districts throughout the coastal region of Texas had closed and residents were asked to evacuate as the hurricane appeared to bear down on the Galveston area. However, before landfall, the hurricane shifted to the east, striking hardest along the Texas-Louisiana border on Sept. 23 and 24. Several districts that had closed, including the 210,000-student Houston district and the 9,100-student Galveston district, plan to reopen this week.

Ms. Ratcliffe said that the state education agency had already mobilized many of its hurricane-related emergency plans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but that it was still waiting to hear back from districts about the extent of the damages from Rita. She said the state has told schools that they won’t have to make up days missed because of the hurricane.

But she said the hurricane “has raised an enormous amount of questions” about how schools are doing, what they’ll need to reopen, and what policy waivers they might need.

Waiting for Damage Assessments

Portions of southwest Louisiana also took a pounding from Rita, forcing school closures, both in that region and other areas, such as Baton Rouge, where the storm was far less severe. The extent of damage to schools in Louisiana was unavailable Sept. 26.

“They haven’t given us any damage assessment here,” said Meg Casper, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Education. But, she added, “We haven’t heard from school districts yet that they’re completely destroyed.”

Ms. Casper noted that in three southwest Louisiana parishes—Calcasieu, Cameron, and Vermilion—residents were not yet allowed to return. She said state offices were closed Sept. 26 in 19 Louisiana parishes, and that typically when state offices are closed, so are the public schools.

She emphasized that decisions to close schools were up to local districts, not the state.

Ms. Casper pointed out that two of the parishes hard hit by Hurricane Rita—Cameron and Calcasieu—each had taken in more than 1,000 students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish, which serves the city of Baton Rouge, were closed Friday, Sept. 23, and again on Monday, Sept. 26. The district incurred some significant power outages in school buildings.

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, meanwhile, was scheduled to have its first post-Katrina meeting on Sept. 27.

Events

School & District Management Webinar How Pensions Work: Why It Matters for K-12 Education
Panelists explain the fundamentals of teacher pension finances — how they are paid for, what drives their costs, and their impact on K-12 education.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Don’t Just Listen to the Loudest Voices: Resources for Ed. Leaders
These resources can help school and district leaders communicate with their communities.
Jennifer Perry Cheatham & Jenny Portillo-Nacu
5 min read
A pair of hands type on a blank slate of keys that are either falling apart or coming together on a bed of sharpened pencils.  Leadership resources.
Raul Arias for Education Week
School & District Management The Harm of School Closures Can Last a Lifetime, New Research Shows
The short-term effects on students when their schools close have been well documented. New research examines the long-term impact.
5 min read
Desks and chairs are stacked in an empty classroom after the permanent closure of Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy in Brooklyn borough of New York on Aug. 6, 2020.
Desks and chairs are stacked in an empty classroom after the permanent closure of Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy in Brooklyn borough of New York on Aug. 6, 2020. A new study examines the long-term effects on students whose schools close.
Jessie Wardarski/AP
School & District Management Video 'Students Never Forget': Principals Call for Help After School Shootings
School leaders are lobbying Congress for more financial support for schools that experience gun violence.
2 min read
Forest High School students console one another after a school shooting at Forest High School Friday, April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Fla. One student shot another in the ankle at the high school and a suspect is in custody, authorities said Friday. The injured student was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Forest High School students console one another after a school shooting at Forest High School Friday, April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Fla. One student shot another in the ankle at the high school and a suspect is in custody, authorities said Friday. The injured student was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Doug Engle/Star-Banner via AP
School & District Management Opinion In School Leadership, Busy Is a Given. Chaos Is a Choice
There will never be enough time, money, or resources to solve every problem in education, so we must learn to operate within constraints.
Kate Hazarian
3 min read
Two hands attempt to hold chaos.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva