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Two Jefferson Parish schools still closed after Hurricane Ida

“They deserve to have a school. It’s been 11 months. Nothing has been done."

JEAN LAFITTE, La. — Getting her 7-year-old son to school used to be easy, but for Talia Matherne, it’s been a headache for almost a year now.

“My little boy has always gone to school here,” Matherne said. “It’s frustrating. These kids want to be back in their school. All these kids do.”

Her son won’t enter second grade this year at his Jean Lafitte school, Leo Kerner Elementary. Damage from Hurricane Ida still has it closed. Fisher Middle-High School next door is also close for the same reason.

That means, just like last year after the storm, all those students will again go to either Harry S. Truman School or John Ehret High School in Marrero.

“It interrupts every child’s education. They have a longer bus ride, takes longer to get home in the afternoons,” Matherne said. “They don’t get home until 4 or 4:15 sometimes.”

What use to be a five-minute trip to and from school, can now take up to 30 minutes. As a working parent, Matherne says late buses add to the frustration.

“There’s times I’ve had to leave my child with my neighbor 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’s no reopening date for Fisher. The district is waiting on specifications from an architect before deciding whether to repair it or replace it.

“They deserve to have a school. It’s been 11 months. Nothing has been done,” Jean Lafitte Councilwoman Christy Creppel said.

Creppel says she’s aggravated it’s taking so long for a big part of this community to return.

“There’s no reason not to have portable buildings hooked up in Lafitte for these children to go to school here so it’s less on the parents, it’s less travel on the children,” Creppel said. “It just seems like they’ve forgotten 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.”

Those recovery efforts just aren’t happening quickly enough for folks in the community.

“It’s been here for a year. Why haven’t you done anything,” Matherne said. “Everybody is frustrated and it’s unfair. Grand Isle is already open and we’re still sitting here.”

The Jefferson Parish School District created a website and an oversight committee to keep folks updated. School Starts Aug. 8.

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