ERIC Number: ED523651
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Temporary Emergency Impact Aid Provided Education Support for Displaced Students. Report to the Congressional Requesters. GAO-11-839
Scott, George A.
US Government Accountability Office
In August and September 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated large portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast, resulting in nearly 2,000 deaths and severe damage to 305,000 houses and apartments. Thousands of families relocated to communities throughout the United States and enrolled their children in local public or private schools. Some families who remained in the devastated areas enrolled their children in schools other than their home schools because their home schools had been seriously damaged or destroyed. Congress appropriated $880 million for the Temporary Emergency Impact Aid for Displaced Students (Emergency Impact Aid) program to assist local educational agencies (school districts) and private schools with the costs of educating these displaced students. Funds were for costs incurred during the 2005-2006 school year, and could be used for a variety of purposes, including compensating teachers, purchasing curriculum materials, leasing portable classrooms, providing counseling services, and covering reasonable transportation costs. The U.S. Department of Education (Education) awarded Emergency Impact Aid funds to 49 states and the District of Columbia based on the count of displaced students enrolled on quarterly dates selected by each state, as reported by public and participating private schools. Each quarter, on the basis of these counts, states received $1,500 per displaced student without disabilities and $1,875 per displaced student with disabilities. States could keep up to 1 percent of funds for administrative expenses, and were required to disburse the remaining funds to local school districts. Districts were allowed to spend up to 2 percent of funds for administration and, similar to states, were required to disburse the remaining funds to public and participating private schools within their jurisdictions. Education did not require states or districts to report how funds were used, but directed districts to maintain records of expenditures. While the program the author and his colleagues reviewed has expired, legislation was introduced in Congress in 2011 that includes provisions that would require Education to provide emergency impact aid in certain circumstances involving presidentially declared disasters, and would give Education discretion to provide such aid in other circumstances if a state is experiencing a catastrophic incident. On the basis of congressional request, the author and his colleagues answered the following questions: (1) What is known about how many students were served by the Emergency Impact Aid program in key states? (2) What challenges, if any, did districts and private schools face in accessing the program or obtaining the required student verification? (3) How did states, districts, and private schools report using the funds and what is known about whether the funds covered the costs of serving displaced students?, and (4) How did Education support states in implementing the program? To evaluate implementation of the Emergency Impact Aid program, they selected 4 states for their review---Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas--which received 80 percent of total Emergency Impact Aid funding. They also analyzed student count data provided by states and expenditure data provided by districts. The findings from their selected states, districts, and private schools are not generalizable nationwide, but provide illustrative examples and valuable perspectives on the Emergency Impact Aid program's operation and challenges. To assess Education's role in implementing the Emergency Impact Aid program, they interviewed officials and reviewed key documentation, including state applications and records of grant awards. They also analyzed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance related to the program and reviewed Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) audits and fiscal year 2006 single audits for all selected states and 12 out of 13 selected districts. Appended are: (1) Briefing to Congressional Requesters, August 4, 2011; and (2) GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments. (Contains 4 figures and 27 footnotes.
Descriptors: Natural Disasters, Weather, Emergency Programs, Federal Aid, Educational Finance, Relocation, Students, Public Schools, Private Schools, School Districts, Costs, Eligibility, Public Agencies, Student Records, Expenditures, Disabilities, School Counseling, Program Effectiveness
US Government Accountability Office. 441 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20548. Tel: 202-512-6000; Web site: http://www.gao.gov
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: US Government Accountability Office
Identifiers - Location: Georgia; Louisiana; Mississippi; Texas