Secretary DeVos Visits Texas and Louisiana as Department of Education Continues to Aid Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Secretary DeVos Visits Texas and Louisiana as Department of Education Continues to Aid Victims of Hurricane Harvey

September 2, 2017

Houston — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today joined President Trump, FEMA Administrator Brock Long and members of the Cabinet in Texas and Louisiana to visit with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The group toured the Hurricane Harvey Relief Center and met with members of the Texas and Louisiana congressional delegations to learn more about how best to assist those on the frontlines of the recovery effort.

"Texas and Louisiana have a long road to recovery ahead, but the resilience of those in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey was evident today," said Secretary DeVos. "The Department of Education will continue to work side-by-side with the people of both states as they begin to piece their lives back together, and get their communities and schools up and running again."

Attendees included:

  • President Donald Trump
  • First Lady Melania Trump
  • Secretary Betsy DeVos, Department of Education
  • Secretary Ben Carson, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary David Shulkin, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Department of Homeland Security
  • Administrator Brock Long, Federal Emergency Management Agency

The following are some of the actions already taken by the Department of Education to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey as well as actions planned for the near future:

  • Last week (on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017), the Department began contacting more than 200 colleges and universities located in areas likely impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The Department will continue to work with campus administrators at affected schools to provide resources and offer assistance.

  • The Department published general guidelines for colleges whose operations are interrupted by a federally declared major disaster. They are available at https://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1708.html

  • Federal Student Aid (FSA) set up a responsive team to manage the correspondence, emails, calls and other inquiries received from institutions. A database was developed to track and manage all contacts with schools and document any support needed to resolve claims/questions from impacted schools. General information for students and parents about disaster assistance was posted at StudentAid.gov/hurricane-harvey.

  • The Department directed federal student loan servicers to provide impacted borrowers flexibility in managing their loan payments during this time. Borrowers can contact their student loan servicer for more information or call 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) to find out their servicer's contact information.

  • The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) has granted Texas' request for an extension for its ESSA plan submission

  • OESE and the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) have reached out to their partners (state education agencies, school districts, charter school associations and private schools) to inform them that the Department stands ready to offer technical assistance and, where applicable, flexibility around federal requirements and deadlines

  • OESE will be conducting a webinar on September 7, 2017, for Texas LEAs in the affected area on the McKinney-Vento Homeless program. OESE will also conduct webinars on ED flexibilities as well as disaster resources that are available from other Federal agencies.

  • On September 1, 2017, the OII Team updated internal and external websites indicating that applicants from Hurricane Harvey affected communities have the opportunity to submit grant applications for the Promise Neighborhood program later than the September 5, 2017, deadline.

  • The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is coordinating with the Texas Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Louisiana Rehabilitation Services on how best to provide services for those in need.

The Department's K-12 and Higher Education stakeholders who are seeking informational resources as well as those seeking relief from Department-based administrative requirements should contact the Department toll free at 1-844-348-4082 or by email at HarveyRelief@ed.gov.