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Muoio Calls on Governor to Assist Hurricane-Displaced Students

Also Requests Use of Armory in Central New Jersey as Donation Drop-Off Site

Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio is calling on Gov. Chris Christie to ensure the smooth transition of students displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to New Jersey schools.

“While the governor’s executive order authorizing the mobilization of resources will go a long way in the immediate and long-term Hurricane Maria recovery effort on the island, we must prepare for the influx of family members and friends seeking temporary and long-term residency in New Jersey,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “In a state with nearly half a million residents of Puerto Rican descent, it’s critical that we’re proactive about ensuring that our residents can contribute to the relief effort and, when necessary, welcome loved ones to a new home in New Jersey.”

As displaced families from Puerto Rico relocate to the mainland United States, New Jersey, which has one of the largest populations of Puerto Ricans outside of the island, inevitably will have a role to play in helping new residents gain a sense of stability, Muoio said. Of particular concern are displaced young people, who must be able to continue their education in New Jersey, she said.

“We have already received questions from constituents regarding the registration of displaced students in local public schools. The New Jersey Department of Education must exercise foresight in planning for the transition of relocated students to schools in our state,” said Muoio. “In addition to ensuring that schools understand and follow established protocols, our state must take extra steps to expedite processing of the appropriate paperwork and provide social services and support counseling for young storm victims and their families.”

In order to minimize the likelihood of significant interruptions in learning, Muoio has proposed a review of policies at New Jersey’s K-12 schools regarding displaced students. Lawmakers in Florida, which also has a considerable Puerto Rican population, have made a similar appeal to Gov. Rick Scott’s administration. Muoio also would like Christie to issue recommendations to state colleges and universities to ensure in-state tuition, tuition waivers and other accommodations to displaced college-age students who arrive in New Jersey from Puerto Rico, Muoio said.

In response to concerns about the lack of a donation site in Central Jersey, Muoio also is calling on Christie to include the National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville as a drop-off location for donations.

“Many Central Jersey organizations are willing and able to coordinate relief efforts to support Puerto Rico, but they are concerned about the distance they would have to travel to deliver collected goods to North or South Jersey,” said Muoio. “Declaring the Lawrenceville Armory an official drop-off site will facilitate contributions from governing bodies and charitable organizations in Mercer County and the surrounding areas.”

A copy of the letter Muoio sent to Christie is here.