Report: DC public schools failed on residency requirement, missed on thousands in tuition

Washington Latin Public Charter School, in the District. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

WASHINGTON — A report finds that D.C. schools have failed to properly check the residency of all students entering public and charter schools, and have failed to collect full tuition from nearly all nonresident students.

The 28-page report from D.C. Inspector General Daniel Lucas released Tuesday found that the school system and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which oversees public and charter schools, lack the means for verifying student residency.

In all, 82 of 85 self-identified nonresident students were allowed to enter school without paying tuition in full over three school years, ending in 2017, the report found. The tab for unpaid tuition reached $169,127.

The report said District officials could not explain why tuition was not properly collected.

The report also finds that when residency fraud was detected, the state superintendent failed to properly report it. In 46 of 67 cases where parents falsely claimed D.C. residency, the report said, the superintendent’s office settled for much less than what was owed, and didn’t notify the school system when parents defaulted on the settlement agreements.

The losses on the settlements, plus the unpaid tuition, total more than $550,000.

“Residency fraud is an ongoing, complex issue in the District of Columbia,” D.C. Council member David Grosso, chairman of the Education Committee, said in a statement.

For the past three years, Grosso said, he’s been pressing the office of the superintendent to improve residency verification and refer cases when necessary.

Lucas said the school system agrees with the report’s findings and agrees or partially agrees with 9 of its 10 recommendations.

The recommendations include establishing procedures to ensure that all nonresident students pay tuition; excluding nonresident students from the schools when they default on tuition payments; and adopting residency verification requirements like those in other jurisdictions.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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