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PRESS RELEASE

September 1, 2005

Jennifer Fennell or
Cheryl Etters
(850) 245-0413

Department of Education Establishes Hotline to Assist Students Impacted by Hurricane Katrina

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced a toll-free, telephone number established to provide information on elementary through university education opportunities available to long-term evacuees temporarily residing in Florida following Hurricane Katrina. The 1-877-FLCARE1 (1-877-352-2731) hotline is intended for students and families seeking information on access to Florida public schools, community colleges, career preparation programs, and public or private colleges and universities. It will become active at 8 a.m. (EDT) tomorrow. Callers will be directed to resources to assist them with enrolling themselves or their children in K-12 public schools and institutions of higher learning. A dedicated e-mail address is also established, FloridaCARES@fldoe.org.

"Florida's stands ready to lend a helping hand to ensure students can carry on with their studies," said Commissioner Winn. "We have created a one-stop contact point for putting people in touch with resources that can help them get information on admission to elementary schools through graduate schools. We want these students to have the ability to stay in school, and we want their families to have the peace of mind of knowing that their son or daughter will continue their education, regardless of the tragedy that surrounds them now."

The hotline will be available to callers within Florida from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. (EDT), seven days a week. Calls received on weekends will be directed to a voice mail system and regularly checked.