Former Second Lady Jill Biden on Wednesday toured Forest Brook Middle School and the community surrounding Hilliard Elementary School, which were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, afterward joining a panel discussion with HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza.
Biden is board chair of Save the Children, a child advocacy group that aims to improve the lives of children through better education, health care, and emergency aid during natural disasters. The group has mobilized support across the state in the wake of Harvey, creating child-friendly spaces in shelters and working with local officials and partners to get more volunteers on the ground.
After visiting the badly flooded neighborhood around Hilliard, Biden walked through nearby Forest Brook, where post-Harvey cleanup is underway. She chatted with Forest Brook Principal Tannisha Gentry, who showed her through some classrooms and the library, where three feet of wet drywall had been removed.
“I think it’s important to get kids back to school as soon as possible – and as safely as possible,” Biden said, noting that the amount of cleanup and repair done so far was impressive.
Afterwards, Biden joined Carranza for a panel discussion with advocacy groups Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Collaborative for Children. They discussed how Harvey has impacted the Houston area and what measures are in place for assistance.
Carranza emphasized that the district was working closely with the mayor’s office to locate students within shelters across the city and ensure those students get transportation to their home schools when classes resume next week. He said there are about 7,000 HISD students in shelters or in transition.
“We know … a sense of normalcy is important, so we’re going to make sure those students are back with their classmates, and they are all together,” Carranza said.