Students Displaced by Katrina Finding New Schools

Katrina survivors who are staying with friends and relatives are getting their children into area schools. For many, it's the first step to piecing their lives back together.

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Briar Meadow Charter School on Houston's west side took in 13 new students last week and this morning had enrolled nine more and families continue to trickle in the front door. Tameka Jackson and her sister evacuated New Orleans hours before Katrina made landfall. They originally tried to relocate in Baton Rouge.

So they moved on to Houston and as it turned out found their parents in the Astrodome. Jackson says getting the children in school will allow them to get a plan together for finding jobs and a place to live. Meanwhile another family, two brothers and a cousin are trying to get their five kids enrolled. Robert Weber says they've managed to rent a couple of apartments down the road.

The Briar Meadow staff is working on getting all the kids placed whether it's at this school or someplace else. Families are huddled over copies of maps. They are getting directions not only to other schools, but also places where they can get assistance. Principal Lynn Barnes says they are planning on the kids staying the entire school year.

The school of less than 500 schools are donating the school supplies and have collected $1,500 in cash cards for the families. The conference room is also full of donated clothes and toys for the families to go through.

As of noon yesterday, the Houston Independent School District alone has enrolled nearly 900 new students. Tomorrow, the school district will hold a mass enrolllment of children in the Reliant Park complex and the George R Brown Convention Center. HISD is re-opening two schools that closed last spring. The first day of school for those kids will be Thursday.

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