JEAN LAFITTE, La. — Getting her 7-year-old son to school was easy, but for Talia Matherne, it’s been a headache for nearly a year now.
“My little boy has always gone to school here,” Matherne said. “It’s frustrating. These kids want to go back to their school. All of these kids are doing it.
Her son will not be entering second grade this year at his Jean Lafitte school, Leo Kerner Elementary. Damage from Hurricane Ida still shut it down. Fisher Middle-High School next door is also closed for the same reason.
This means that, just like last year after the storm, all of those students will once again go to Harry S. Truman School or John Ehret High School in Marrero.
“It interrupts the education of every child. They have a longer bus ride, take longer to get home in the afternoon,” Matherne said. “They don’t get home until 4 or 4:15 sometimes.”
What used to be a five-minute drive to and from school can now take up to 30 minutes. As a working parent, Matherne says late buses add to the frustration.
“There were times when I had to leave my child at my neighbor’s to get to work on time,” Matherne said.
According to the school district, Kerner Elementary needs electrical work and is expected to reopen early next year. There is no reopening date for Fisher. The neighborhood is waiting for an architect’s specifications before deciding whether to repair or replace it.
“They deserve to have a school. It’s been 11 months. Nothing has been done,” said Jean Lafitte’s adviser, Christy Creppel.
Creppel says she is made worse by the time it takes for much of that community to return.
“There is no reason not to have portable buildings connected to Lafitte for these children to go to school here, so it’s less for the parents, it’s less travel for the children”, has Creppel said. “It just seems like they forgot about the school system down here.”
A statement to Eyewitness News from JP Schools reads, in part, “While progress is being made, we appreciate the patience and flexibility of our students, families and staff as we focus on long-term recovery efforts. “
These recovery efforts are simply not happening fast enough for community members.
“He’s been here for a year. Why didn’t you do anything, said Matherne. “Everyone is frustrated and it’s unfair. Grand Isle is already open and we are still sitting here.
The Jefferson Parish School District created a website and an oversight committee to keep people informed. School starts on August 8.
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