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Florida Schools Prepare For Puerto Rican Students

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The Florida Department of Education will wave public school registration requirements for 30 days in response to the mass exodus of students from the hurricane ravaged island of Puerto Rico. An executive order waives the immediate requirement of immunization records and educational history documentation.

Teachers working in Puerto Rican schools will have an opportunity to apply for certification in Florida without paying an application fee.

Volusia County Public Schools expects over 500 Puerto Rican students to enroll in K-12 programs.

“Meetings with guidance counselors and principals are being facilitated to discuss the particular needs of their students from Puerto Rico,” says Volusia spokeswoman Nancy Waits.

In guidelines set by the Florida Department of Education, the lack of documentation means school districts will need to conduct instructional assessments to gage skill level and English language proficiency.  Students with disabilities will need a statement from a parent or legal guardian verifying their disability.

The largest hurdle for the school districts will be funding for the additional students.

Public school funding is done on a per student basis. Throughout the year student counts are conducted to allocate funds to schools. A count is scheduled for next week; but with many students from Puerto Rico expected to register over the next month. Wait hopes the Florida Department of Education will extend the count deadline in order to receive funding for new students.

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