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Kim Johnson ReportingSchool and September go hand in hand, and there's no exception for children uprooted by a hurricane. Classes begin tomorrow for the evacuee children at Camp Williams. But the question is, where?
Pamela Atkinson: "We felt we should not be busing the children off this base."
It is illegal to segregate children who are displaced or homeless in an educational setting. Advocates are trying to get around that so that school can start tomorrow on base at Camp Williams.
The Jordan school district would happily welcome the students into their schools, but advocates and educators alike would rather educate them on-base, where their parents are nearby.
Pamela Atkinson, Homeless Advocate: “We felt that we should not be busing the children off this base and away from their parents after suffering such a trauma, and we didn’t want to have to put them out in schools at this point.”
While the kids play with puzzles and games, Senator Hatch’s office has been trying to get an exemption to the law since Thursday. It’s an exemption Pamela Atkinson is counting on.
Pamela Atkinson: “Because if I get a ‘no’ or a ‘this is going to take two or three weeks,’ I would just say that’s unacceptable, I need to talk to President Bush. So I would go directly to Governor Huntsman and say we need to call President Bush because they’re not giving us the waiver and that doesn’t make any sense.”
Atkinson says both parents and kids are anxious to get back to the classrooms. The Jordan District intervention team has been on base all week, getting acquainted with their new students.
Susan Chilton, Jordan School District: “We want them to see us, to recognize us, to recognize that we’re part of the support team that’s there for them. The older kids are now high-fiving us and remembering us from before and saying, ‘oh yeah,’ or making a connection from yesterday.”
No classrooms have been set up on base yet, but instructors say they are ready to go for the 25 students there. They’re just waiting for the word on where school will start tomorrow, hoping it’s at Camp Williams.