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Rise in Homeless Students Brings High Transportation Costs

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(Credit: Thinkstock)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - School districts are working together to help homeless students stay in school.

Diedra Thomas-Murray heads the Students in Transition office for St. Louis Public Schools. When she says homeless, she’s not just talking about cases in which parents lose a house or get evicted.

“Runaways and throwaways. They either leave home by choice or they’re put out of their home,” she said. “Even with the LGBT population, many of them leave home because their stance is not accepted or welcomed within their families.”

Riverview, Hazelwood, Ferguson-Florissant, Normandy, and St. Louis Public Schools all meet quarterly to talk about their efforts to help students in transition and get them to class, even if they leave one community for another.

Transporting homeless students is costly and was previously done using taxi cabs. The districts now share buses in an attempt to cut costs.

“It’s very expensive,” Thomas-Murray says. “We spent over $2 million in homeless transportation last year.”

St. Louis Public Schools has roughly 5,000 students without permanent homes, a number which has increased in recent years, according to Thomas-Murray. Her staff of nearly a dozen also includes two clinical therapists to help students facing mental illness, domestic violence, or substance abuse.

Next month, SLPS will hold a clergy breakfast to raise money and collect winter clothing and toiletries for the students in transition.

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