DC sues 7, charging school residency fraud; seeks $700,000

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D.C.’s attorney general is suing seven people in three families, claiming they lied about living in the District in order to send their kids to D.C. schools for free.

The statement from Attorney General Karl Racine’s office also says one parent committed fraud to receive public benefits.

Racine’s office said all three families lived in Maryland and lied on annual residency verification forms. “The District can seek to recover up to triple the amount of unpaid tuition that is owed if a court agrees,” the statement said.

In total, the city is looking for more than $700,000 in unpaid tuition, benefits, penalties and costs.

The families accused are:

  • April and Nicholas Fennell, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, who are accused of claiming they lived in the District when they sent their three children to Phelps Architecture, Construction, and Engineering High School and the now-closed Potomac Preparatory Public Charter School for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Nicholas Fennell worked at the Phelps school at the time, Racine’s office said. The lawsuit seeks a total of $233,944.
  • Chantese and James Alston, who are accused of claiming they lived in the District between 2009 and 2015, when they sent their children to Maury Elementary School and the D.C. charter schools Parkside Middle School and Shining Stars Montessori School. Chantese Alston now lives in D.C.; James Alston has been also been accused of falsely claiming to live in the District in order to get Medicaid and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits. The city is looking for a total of $391,000.
  • Asaki and Rashidat Shittu, sisters who live in Hyattsville, Maryland, and their father, Rasaki Shittu, of D.C. The sisters are accused of using their father’s address to enroll their children at Noyes Education Campus, in the Brookland section, where Asaki Shittu worked, at various times between 2010 and the 2013-2014 school year. D.C. is looking for more than $66,000 from Asaki and Rasaki Shittu, and $14,950 from Rashidat Shittu.

Nonresident tuition at D.C. public schools ranges from $10,000 to $14,000 a year, Racine’s office said in the statement, but even then, D.C. residents on a particular school’s waiting list get priority.

“Residency fraud not only cheats our taxpayers, but it also hurts District children who play by the rules, and frequently rely on the school lottery process to attend the schools of their choice,” Racine said in the statement.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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