Evacuees allowed in Ga. Pre-K - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Evacuees allowed in Ga. Pre-K

September 28, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- Children of Hurricane Katrina evacuees are being allowed in to Georgia's Pre-K program. And because many of them have no school records, the state is waiving the requirement.

When Paraprofessional Arthur Smith goes to work at the Mu-Dear Pre-K center in Thomasville, he's not just doing it for a paycheck. "From when I go home, to here, to church, everywhere, I'm always there with children. I just love children," he says.

But for the first time in Smith's career, Mu-Dear founder, Dr. Donnell Carley, says the state is allowing him to work with children it knows nothing about. "They allowed any children from the Gulf States such as Mississippi, Louisiana, or Alabama to come to the state of Georgia, and to enter their children into school without the required registration forms," says Carley.

That's because Hurricane Katrina permanently claimed so many of their personal records. "What they usually have to have is social security cards, birth certificates, four and five year old health check ups," says Carley.

One of the main reasons the state waived its Pre-K requirements for victims of Hurricane Katrina is to help maintain a sense of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal situation. "Those children had seen so much for their tender years. What Georgia wanted to do was get them back into what they were accustomed to," says Carley.

Now, they've been given the go-ahead to attend school here all year, maybe more if necessary. Eventually, the school will get its records. "Georgia is one of the first states to do this. Georgia Pre-K is one of the best things that ever happened to Georgia," sats Carley. "It's so much fun. Everyday is a challenge for me and the children," adds Smith. Especially the 12 evacuees attending school in Thomas County now.

State consultants are monitoring the number of students in each Pre-K program to make sure it doesn't get overfilled. Their goal is to have no more than 21 students per classroom.

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