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December 13, 2012

Paradoxical Information From Our School System

Joan Marie Aquilino

Recently an article was printed in The Frederick News-Post referencing the many homeless students within the Frederick County Public School System. The report stated that there were 458 students that our school system puts under the category of homeless.


For nearly 500 students (which obviously means many more people when you include the family) to be homeless in our community is a very sad state of affairs.


I’m glad that efforts are being made to assist and help these students. I truly do believe our children need to be supported. Children need the assistance to break away from the circumstance they’ve been dealt through no fault of their own. So, having said all this, my focus today is on the students and their situations or rather the reporting from our school system on this serious problem.


It’s completely and utterly amazing to me that Frederick County Public Schools can count to the person exactly how many homeless students there are in the system; but they haven’t a clue how many students attending our schools are there without proper papers stating their citizenship in America or their legal residency; not what any individual student’s name is, but rather they can’t even provide a generic number to confirm or deny if there is even a problem. I’m perfectly aware of the laws to educate all students; I’m not asking that they not be educated.


Our state and federal government should be made aware of exactly how many students are being educated in our public school systems that are not in this county under legal means – a number, a simple number, with no names attached. Maybe it’s not a problem, but how are we to ever know?


Next, how many of the students labeled homeless are citizens and how many are not? Once that is determined, my next concern centers on how a student is considered homeless. When other means are providing a roof and walls, I’m not sure if I’d consider that homeless. Maybe I’m missing something. Having gone through a divorce, we were misplaced for a short time, but I never considered myself homeless.


Living in a shelter, yes I’d consider that homeless; others obviously are literally living out of a vehicle, which, I unfortunately, know happens way too often. And what about those staying on a friend’s couch, so to speak.


But what I don’t consider homeless are those staying with family or friends for an indeterminate amount of time. I’m sure there are exceptions to this, but it appears many are lumped into that homeless category just because they fall into the living-with-family category. I don’t think that serves anyone well by being labeled homeless.


When my children come back home to live with me, they are not homeless by any stretch of my imagination. There are a million and one reasons this could happen. Just a couple having recently moved, a divorce or even trying to save money to buy a home of their own shouldn’t be considered homeless; and if they had children they too would be part and parcel of that move. I’m honored to be able to assist my children in that fashion. For the time they were with me, however short or long that might be, my address would be theirs and they would be in a home and would not be homeless.


The News-Post article went on to say how and what is provided, etc. I’ve no argument with the help that is offered, but I do want to point out that our community is there when help is needed, and I’m not sure all those efforts are being used.


Of course, I don’t ever want a child to be without the knowledge of knowing where their next meal will come from, or where they will sleep that night. Don’t even try and say I’m taking it to that extreme because I am not. I’ve housed those that were in temporary situations and gladly did so.


I would like to know how these things are done and why certain numbers can be obtained and readily offered, yet others can’t? Why is Frederick County Public Schools always available to talk about what they need, but never have the information at hand about what they have and what they have done with it all. Maybe this isn’t so much about students needing help, but rather about how our school system hides so much and does so so often. If we had known this all along maybe more help would have been forthcoming, and these students wouldn’t be in the situation they are now. Maybe homes could have been found for them and their lives could have been made more stable.


I wish the students well and I pray the system – along with the generosity of our community – helps them all; but I also wish our school system would be abundantly more consistently forthcoming. It would make helping it so much easier if we just understood who’s on first, what’s on second………


. . . . .'til next time . . .


As always, I’d love to hear from you; so, let me know what’s on your mind by emailing, or contacting me directly at


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