Homeless teen stays in his class at Greenport HS

by |
04/03/2012 4:41 PM |

The Oysterponds school board agreed last month to allow a homeless Orient youth now living in a Shirley shelter to continue attending classes in Greenport.

The board recently agreed to spend over $15,400 to transport the student from the shelter to Greenport and back each school day for the remainder of the year.

The district was notified about the homeless Orient family — one parent and a high school senior — earlier this month. State law requires schools to provide transportation for homeless students placed in housing within 50 miles of a school district. The student’s round trip totals about 80 miles and the state is expected to provide partial reimbursement.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the $3,860 a month deal with Sunrise Busses. School board member Thomas Gray was absent.

Superintendents at Mattituck-Cutchogue and Southold schools said the situation is uncommon on the North Fork. Greenport officials said that district has transportation arrangements for its homeless students. New Suffolk superintendent Robert Feger didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

During the public comment portion of the Oysterponds board meeting last week, some residents said they believed the community could have helped the homeless family find temporary shelter within the district if it had been made aware of the situation.

But school board president Deborah Dumont, who described the family’s situation as a “tragedy,” said the issue is a confidential matter.

Oysterponds school officials said two other local families were homeless this year but have since found affordable housing in East Marion.

If the homeless Greenport student finds housing within the district, the school will receive a refund from the transportation contract, school officials said.

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