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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The number of students who are displaced -- homeless or living with relatives outside of their primary family -- is on the rise, according to officials at several Utah public school districts.
While numbers for the 2008-09 school year won't be in for months, social service liaisons at some districts said they've seen an increase over last year's numbers, when 11,264 students in Utah were displaced.
During the 2006-07 school year, 9,995 were displaced.
District liaisons try to help students get enrolled and earn credit while displaced, as required by federal law.
Jordan School District's liaison for homeless students, Connie Crosby, visits an overflow shelter, the Midvale Community Center, every weekday morning. "We've definitely had an increase in students at the shelter," Crosby said.
The largest number of students defined as displaced are living with relatives. Other students may be homeless and living out of a car or in a shelter.
In the Salt Lake City School District, 1,235 displaced students were helped last school year. Already this year the number has topped 800. "Today I'll take two kids to get sunglasses, help one teenager get food stamps, and make sure a bunch of kids get clothes," said
Mike Harmon, counselor and education liaison for the Salt Lake district. "That's all before lunch, hopefully, if all goes well."
Last school year, Granite School District counseled 899 displaced students. This October alone the district identified 768 displaced students, with the rest of the school year to go.
While displaced, students say they do their best to stay focused on homework. "I sit on my bed and just focus on it," said Annette Palma, a 12-year-old fifth-grader at Midvale Middle School who is at the Midvale Community Center. "I don't think about anything else that's going on around me."
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)