Is there an easier way for school districts to detect false addresses? And should systems encourage tipsters?

Waiting for my daughter at her Decatur middle school the other day, I noticed a Henry County car parked in front of me, also waiting to pick up a student.

I wasn’t concerned that the student was not a Decatur resident. The parent could be a city employee, in which case the child is entitled to attend the schools. The student could be paying tuition. The child could have one parent living in Decatur and the other in Henry. It could be  the parent had only recently moved to Decatur and hadn’t updated the tag.

It would be a mistake to assume that a student is illegally attending an out-of-district school simply by license plate. However, I often hear from readers who believe that their system is overrun with students feigning residency because of all the cars with out-of-county license tags dropping off at their schools each morning.

The AJC has a WSB TV-2-reported story about this concern in Fayette County, which has, in fact, been overrun owing to the reputation of its schools:

“We know we have them here. But we need people to tip us off and let us know who they are,” Fayette schools spokeswoman Melinda Berry-Dreisbach told Channel 2. “I had a resident in a neighborhood contact me because he saw a lot of cars with Fulton County tags dropping kids off at the bus stop,” the spokeswoman said. Some parents, she added, “go rent an apartment and never live in it.”

During the past two years, the Fayette district has caught 255 elementary, middle and high school students attending their schools illegally. It has collected $60,000 total from the parents of such students, Berry-Dreisbach said.

In 2009, a Henry County jury found a Clayton woman and her brother-in-law from McDonough guilty of “making a false writing” by in enrolling the woman’s son in a Henry County high school. The defendants received probation and were ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and reimburse the school district nearly $1,200 in tuition costs.

To deter unlawful enrollments, Fulton County schools require parents to submit a notarized affidavit of residence for each student. Proof of residency also is required for newly enrolled students, children entering the sixth or ninth grades and students who have moved since submitting their last affidavit.

Is there a more straightforward and efficient method to ascertain residency?  In my district, I had to show a tax bill, although it would seem that the school system could check enrollment records electronically against property and tax records. Should systems encourage parents to turn in other parents?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

184 comments Add your comment

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

September 9th, 2011
4:17 am

Tipsters? Let’s call them what they are: snitches. I love snitches. We should protect snitches and reward them for verifiably accurate info.

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
5:48 am

We should be documenting the immigration status of all children and their parents when they enroll in school. The Supreme Court states that we must educate (K-12) those in the country illegally, but we should also know the COSTS of providing those educations. These are taxpayer resources that are used on foreign nationals or the children of foreign nationals in our country illegally.

Of course, now that we have a de-facto open borders immigration policy, this situation will only get worse. Obama pandered to all his union buddies when he pushed for construction and teacher jobs last night, another ploy to provide help to those that support his administration that puts the interests of illegal aliens before those of US citizens. Obama didn’t say that E-Verify should be used to deny illegal aliens those new construction jobs did he!

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
6:01 am

We sure can get after those US citizens who “want a better life for their children” by sending them to better schools and then make then “pay” when caught!

Illegal aliens are given a free ride and no effort is made to hold them accountable…that’s just the NEW American way.

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
6:30 am

It will be pretty hard to make a good argument that they are not “legal” residents of the school district when illegal aliens are not even legal residents of the country.

James

September 9th, 2011
6:33 am

All schools should be private, not government schools…then provide parents with vouchers. If the school accepts the vouchers, have a requirement that no additional fees can be charged. Problem solved.

catlady

September 9th, 2011
6:35 am

Focus on the topic, Rick. Those illegal aliens are paying your county taxes (property, sales), in one way or another. The kids from the county over are not.

I have turned in a few families that I knew lived outside the county. It is up to the system folks to do something about it. In one case, the parents withdrew the child back to his own county.

In our area it isn’t much of a problem. Any kid can go to any school if the parents provide transportation. Most don’t. But we are a very rural county, and to go to another system would take a LOT of effort.

d

September 9th, 2011
6:42 am

@catlady – thanks for stating something that often goes overlooked with the illegal immigrants….. these people are living somewhere, they are buying stuff, etc.
To the topic at hand, I used to substitute teach at some schools near the Gwinnett/DeKalb line…. I can’t tell you how many times I was outside on duty watching cars with DeKalb County plates dropping children off at these Gwinnett schools….. now that I work in DeKalb, I still see some Fulton, Henry, and Clayton plates, but like Maureen said above, I have no way of knowing the story behind these children. People are looking for an easy, one-size-fits-all answer when often, there is not.

ABC

September 9th, 2011
7:08 am

Looking at the plates is not a good way of determining where someone actually lives. One of our cars is an old Honda that my father bought me years ago. We never got around to transferring ownership and the tag still says Dekalb even though we live and work in Cobb Co.

I don’t understand how people get away we sending kids out of district. I have to submit proof of residency every year. Doesn’t everyone?????

Former APS principal

September 9th, 2011
7:11 am

The Truth So Help Me God:

APS will take anybody they can get state, local and federal dollars for, including “illegals.” That was an explicit maching order from our SRT executive director and Kathy Augustine’s office.

Ad Naseum

September 9th, 2011
7:34 am

@ catlady and other illegal supporters

Illegals are often paying the lowest in property taxes, living multiples to an address. They also receive many entitlements that are not contributing to the sales tax (WIC, etc). So while they may pay, it is a fraction compared to what they should be paying. They are not paying enough in taxes to reap the benefits they receive. Lets not forget they shouldn’t even be in this country in the first place.

catlady – your rhetoric concerning your beloved illegals is classic on these blogs.

I have no problem with folks “snitching”. As a GCPS parents, many of us have stepped up our efforts because we know the fallout from APS and Dekalb are affecting us. TAKERS are a drain on our economy, regardless of who they are.

The criminal and entitlement mentality are diseases that are killing the US.

James

September 9th, 2011
7:36 am

Why have you not posted my comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Show Me The $$$$$$$$$

September 9th, 2011
7:39 am

It is all about the $$$$$$$$. We need to hire private investigators and prosecute these cheaters like they do in many of the better schools district. GA will always be last since we seem to be educating the lowest common denominator all in the name of diversity, compassion, and big bucks.

Jackie

September 9th, 2011
7:42 am

Submitting an annual affadavit seems like a common sense solution to me. BTW…if caught, I would hope that the affatavit would ratchet up the consequences beyond just a slap on the wrist.

JESS

September 9th, 2011
7:43 am

If you haven’t registered your vehicle in your true county of residence within the time alloted by law, and continue to pay ad valorem taxes in another county for that bogus registration you are breaking the law and subject to fines and penalties, not to mention forfeiture of the improper taxes you’ve paid when you are discovered. Do the right thing and stop trying to ‘beat the system’.

Van Jones

September 9th, 2011
7:43 am

Turn them all in… county or country.
And the comment about illegals paying their way because they pay county taxes in one way or another is misleading. Most likely they do not own a home but, rather, rent a cheap apartment and it’s very common to have a large extended family living together in the apartment (some municipalities have even drafted ordinances determining how many people could live in a partucilar house).
Well, they pay payroll taxes. Some probably do although it is highly likely they get most back – especially when you factor in the number of kids they claim. And there is EIC too.
Well, they pay sales tax. Yes! But a couple percent to the county probably doesn’t even pay for their share of the infrastructure. And property taxes pay for our schools.
I sat in the lobby of a Sandy Springs elm school this week waiting for my wife to arrive for orientation. The receptionist assisted numerous families during this time and never spoke a single word of English. And none of the families were there with less than 2 kids.

Van Jones

September 9th, 2011
7:45 am

Wow, I sure have sleepy fingers this morning. Please overlook my typing errors.

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
7:55 am

I know that our schools are getting FEDERAL funding…are the illegal aliens paying their fair share of federal income tax to support the $10,000 cost of K-12 educations?

It is not just local sales taxes that pay for these educations. Some of these parents may be paying significant local sales taxes in another county.

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
7:58 am

It seems like giving illegal aliens a “pass” is indeed a slipperly slope! Come down hard on the US citizens but ignore the problems caused by illegal aliens.

jt

September 9th, 2011
8:01 am

Snitching or Narcing is always bad form…………..regardless of the reason.
.
Learned that in Kindergarden.

carlosgvv

September 9th, 2011
8:02 am

catlady

Most of those illegals work for cash and rent so, they do not pay property taxes. And, if you think it’s ok for them to be here illegaly just because they pay sales tax, you have a seriously warped idea of what law enforcement should and should not be.

Inman Park Boy

September 9th, 2011
8:03 am

Parents shpuld be allowed a CHOICE of schools for their children. The public school “go where we tiell you to go” model has lead to dreadful schools, and dreadful schools should wither and die. This would happen if parents had choice. Competition works in all areas of life to improve the product. Public schools should try it. To charge a parent with a crime merely because she wants her child to have a good education is the real crime. Disgusting. Only in America.

posterchild

September 9th, 2011
8:08 am

@Rick in Grayson, the issue in Fayette County isn’t the illegal aliens you are ranting about. The issue in Fayette is students from surrounding counties (Clayton, the southern portion of Fulton) hopping the County-line. I have heard instances of athletes being allowed to attend school out-of-district, and driving through the portion of Clayton County that’s right on the Fayette line, have seen graduation signs in yards touting a student at a Fayette County school.

If parents would get involved in their own community’s school, perhaps there wouldn’t be a need to shuttle kids elsewhere. I’m guessing that once they take their children to schools in a different district, they do not become that involved. As someone who graduated from Fayette County High School in the 90’s, I know that one of the things that made our school so great was how involved the community was. I don’t know if that’s really the case so much there anymore.

@ Rich

September 9th, 2011
8:16 am

This article isn’t about illegal people. Its about people who no longer live in a school zone, but bring their kids by driving them or by using someone else’s address to go to school there.

@ Rich

September 9th, 2011
8:17 am

Oh an Rich…I LIVE in Grayson…I don’t know why you are so worked up, this area is pretty afluent.

Dekalb 2 Gwinnett

September 9th, 2011
8:21 am

Well if an ILLEGAL can come here and take what they want and get away with it for years, then why can’t I send my child to a school where I want. I wanted my child to play football for a particular school in Gwinnett, so he is living with his aunt part time during the week. He will be more likely to get a scholarship for my efforts. Nobody is looking at Dekalb becuase we have lost credibility.

What wrong with me borrowing another schools resources? I will lie, cheat and steal to get what I want for my kid. I don’t have time to be involved in the schools as I have to WORK for a living. Go after the ILLEGALS and leave me and my boys alone.

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
8:23 am

This issue here is access to schools when “someone” thinks they are paying for them.

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
8:23 am

This issue here is access to schools when “someone” thinks they are NOT paying for them.

APS parent

September 9th, 2011
8:23 am

At least the illegals immigrants live in the county/district.
My gripe is with all the illegals who live out of District who speed their darling children thru stop signs and nearly mow over pedestrians (kids walking to school) as they drag THEIR kids from a couple counties’ out into my district school.
They don’t pay nearly the staggering property taxes to APS that I and my fellow-city neighbors do (and put wear and tear on the roads that they don’t pay the City for either), and they aggrevate overcrowding and resource allocation issues for the school and my child directly.
I couldn’t care less about the illegals from Central America – it’s the ones from Clayton, far-flung DeKalb and whereever else who nearly take my car door off once a week and overload my school and dilute my child’s education (that i dutifully pay for – not scofflaw ignore) that I want OUT OUT OUT.

alm

September 9th, 2011
8:31 am

Renters do pay property taxes in the form of monthly rent.

Entitlement Mentality

September 9th, 2011
8:32 am

Those that say this is not about Illegals are wrong. When we let Illegals invade our country, the entitlement seed was planted. All it takes is the idea and examples on what you can get away with and the theft of services is endless. If they can steal a public education from taxpayers, then why can’t I (I pay taxes)?

Anyone that continies to support Illegals is contributing to the problem. Every pro-Illegal sentiment sparks an idea of theft. Every blog post of support for beloved Illegal Aliens also throws fuel on the anti-Illegal fire. Taxpaying Americans are tired of being stolen from and those of you that aid these criminals are part of the problem. You are adding more misery to their plight.

So keep up your fight for Illegal Aliens that do not belong in this country. You are doing more harm than good, but hey you are helping the anti-Illegla side win the argument. :)

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
8:34 am

These out of county residents should file a lawsuit alleging “racial” profiling. The are being targeted because they are not illegal aliens :)

Maureen Downey

September 9th, 2011
8:37 am

@James, Your comment ended up in our filter. I am not sure why, but I have released it.
Maureen

Thinking About

September 9th, 2011
8:39 am

Georgia’s schools and school districts should not be so unequal that parents feel compelled to drive their children to another district. It is the system that needs to be addressed.

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
8:41 am

Out of county residents are a small part of the problem. The children of illegal aliens account for 10 to 100 times more taxpayer resources. The ELEPHANT in the room that is not being considered when US citizens are being prosecuted. Illegal aliens have more “rights” than US citizens in this matter.

Tarsha

September 9th, 2011
8:45 am

Yall, are a bunch of racist! We came from one God! A car tag, does’t tell wether you live in that area or not. Mind your own business. Be grateful you woke this morning, have a job and have good health. And those that are still paying mortgage, hello? the bank owns your home, not you! So stop winning get A LIFE .

Van Jones

September 9th, 2011
8:47 am

Very nice, Tarsha. Now log off and get ready for school before your mom sees you.

Anonm

September 9th, 2011
8:49 am

Enter your comments here

Maureen Downey

September 9th, 2011
8:50 am

@Thinking About, That is a great point, but we are not going to resolve that with the current funding formula that depends heavily on local will and local wealth.
Maureen

Anonmom

September 9th, 2011
8:52 am

At least these other counties/Districts seem to care… DCSS doesn’t seem to care at all– I think that so long as they can get someone to complete a free & reduced lunch form, they couldn’t really care less if you live in DeKalb or if you live in the district you’re supposed to go to (unless you’re white — sorry — but that’s really the truth) — you can attend any school you want to go to, legally or illegally, by special permission, transfer (ayp, administrative), deception, “friend’s help” or by pretending to live somewhere you don’t…. many folks would absolutely love to see the DA or Solicitor start to prosecute for this. The poor kids who live an hour a way are beat at the end of the day waiting to be picked up…..

Anonmom

September 9th, 2011
8:54 am

And just think about the example parents are setting for their kids when they lie about where they live to send their kids to school (there’s one family that’s been living somewhere else and claiming to reside with grandparents from elementary all the way through high school — both parents are professionals (PhD level professionals) — the home they live in is actually pretty nice and the district they seem to want to attend school in is pretty large — there is really no decent excuse for not actually buying a home in the school district).

Shar

September 9th, 2011
8:59 am

DeKalb 2 Gwinnett, you are in fact lying, cheating and stealing. If you want your child to attend an out of district school, you can do that as long as you follow the rules: apply and then pay the fees that make up for the fact that you don’t pay the Gwinnett property tax that pays for the education your child(ren) receives. Instead, you are lying about their residency, cheating the other students and teachers and stealing an education you are not entitled to. Great role modelling.

This careless, selfish arrogance is what this article is about. You want the opportunities at the other school but you are unwilling to pay for them, so you just take them and want others to “leave you alone.” Why should they, when they have to pay your way? You are the sort of person that should be turned in and forced to either pay up or leave.

The fact that you work does not excuse you from working in the schools. I worked and was PTA president, and most of the other parent volunteers did likewise. More role modelling – if you participate in their education, your children see that you place importance on it and they benefit from your efforts as do their classmates.

You seem to feel entitled to take advantage of whatever you can snatch, but feel no obligation to give anything back because “you work.” I feel sorry for your kids.

Maureen Downey

September 9th, 2011
8:59 am

@Anon, I also wonder about making the child complicit as I assume that parents have to coach the kids about what to say about where they live. And it has to impact friendships as the child who lives an hour away in another district can’t invite kids over or easily go to a classmate’s house. It would seem like a strain on the child, and a strain that would only get worse in middle and high school in terms of maintaining the charade.
Maureen

Hmmm

September 9th, 2011
9:00 am

Where there is smoke, then is often a fire!

This is a rampant problem, especially in GCPS.

It is all about the numbers and $$$$$!

Big numbers = more federal funding.

Same is true for Illegal aliens, they require lots of entitlements to survive in this country.

The “jobs that America’s won’t do” does not PAY, slave wages means welfare and federal dollars.

Laurie

September 9th, 2011
9:10 am

Van Jones complained that illegal aliens are poor and thus “probably [don't] even pay for their share of the infrastructure” through taxes. And “Ad Naseam” wrote: “They are not paying enough in taxes to reap the benefits they receive.”

That could be said of most parents who have more than 1 child in public school.

It’s logical to argue that public schools should be abolished and people should send their kids to private schools that they can afford or which will give them scholarships.

It’s not logical to argue in favor of, or the accept the existence of, public schools, which always involve cross-subsidies from people without kids to families with kids, and THEN start complaining that some people are getting more value than they put in in taxes.

And also: reading so many people say that the renters don’t “pay” property taxes underscores again for me that a very simple economics course needs to be a mandatory high school course.

jconservative

September 9th, 2011
9:11 am

Every illegal who draws a paycheck has federal & state income tax and payroll taxes deducted from that check. Only those who are paid in cash are exempt. I know of no company that pays in cash.
But there may be those who do so. And if a company is paying in cash then that company losses the payroll expense deduction from their IRS filings. And payroll expense is the largest single expense deduction for the great majority of companies. That means they are probably operating in cash and are not paying their proper amount of federal & state income taxes.

A Conservative Voice

September 9th, 2011
9:15 am

I seem to remember, Maureen that earlier this year or late last year, this issue was brought up on one of your blogs and you made the statement that “I wouldn’t turn anyone in for doing this even if I knew it to be true”. Is that still your stance?

Rick in Grayson

September 9th, 2011
9:16 am

“Every illegal…who draws a paycheck…”. Most illegals who draw a paycheck and don’t work in the cash economy claims 20 dependents so that nothing is withheld from their paychecks”.

Recent article (last 2 days) about illegal aliens scamming the IRS for $2.4 Billion in 2009 on their “taxes”.

I am interested in how many “snitches” will turn in a fellow American for this school issue, yet fail to turn in illegal aliens to ICE.

Again we have bloggers here that will defend illegal aliens at all costs yet throw fellow US citizens under the school bus.

catlady

September 9th, 2011
9:18 am

Wow! I’m a classic?

We have as many “white” people in our county working off the books as we do “illegals,” and more that get welfare, wic, food stamps, etc. I have a big problem with these folks, who have had EVERY advantage, getting all this “help” to stay home and breed more. Our county has a very high percentage of folks who get “transfer payments,” the vast, vast majority of whom are “white.” It isn’t bias on my part. It is a fact.

Van Jones

September 9th, 2011
9:34 am

catlady, good point but nobody cares about the color, race, whatever of illegals.

Kaitsmom

September 9th, 2011
9:39 am

why can’t the school districts charge a tuition like Decatur School systems. I live in Dekalb and plan to apply for Decatur. There are some neighboring Gwinnett schools that I would pay tuition for as well if that was an option. I work in North Fulton, I would pay there too for the convience of dropping my child off at a decent school along the way. Some of us are willing to pay at good public schools instead of cheat to get in. The only other option is to pray for acceptance into charter or pay a ridiculous tuition for some of the better private schools.