The superintendent of the Hauppauge School District came under fire by parents at a recent board meeting when parents of one school raised their concerns about including students from a newly opened homeless shelter within the district.
Superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss decided to place all of the elementary school-aged children who lived in the shelter at Forest Brook Elementary School on Lilac Lane in Smithtown – a decision which infuriated some parents who feel that class sizes in the school are already too large.
Currently, Hauppauge School District has a maximum enrollment of 26 students per class. According to Hauppauge Patch, Sullivan-Kriss said that exactly 10 students were placed in the school. No students were placed at Bretton Woods Elementary or Pines Elementary, and an unknown number have been placed in the secondary schools.
“I own that decision and I did it because, in terms of class size and in terms of the supports that are available to students in that school, it was the most appropriate school in which to place our children. That decision was my decision and was not made with any pressure from anybody,” Sullivan-Kriss said.
It is unknown how long the students will stay in the school district, or how many students may be added as they move into the shelter, which is at an undisclosed location.
“It’s very disruptive,” said district resident Lawrence Crafa to Patch. “Why should we deal with it all year long? All the elementary schools should deal with the same issue.”
“Every time you change a child, you change the dynamic of the classroom,” said Jennifer Salvaggio, a Hauppauge resident with two students at Forest Brook. “Whether it’s in or out, it’s constantly changing. These kids have more behavior problems. They require more resources. So why are we not spreading it through all the schools?”
Sullivan-Kriss assured parents that the classrooms at Forest Brook will continue to be monitored. In the meantime, the district will have similar expectations for the students from the shelter as it has for all other students, including that the district receives all of the students’ immunization records.
According to the McKinney-Vento Act, homeless students cannot be segregated from other students in the classroom environment, and the information on the homeless shelter or students and their families cannot be publicly released.