D.C.’s crackdown on school residency fraud continued on Thursday, with more parents now facing lawsuits from Attorney General Karl Racine’s office.
Racine’s office alleges that six Maryland parents — including three current or former District government employees — owe a total of over $320,000 in unpaid tuition, damages and fines because they made false statements, thereby avoiding nonresident tuition.
Nonresidents of the District can apply to District schools, but they must pay a tuition that ranges from $10,000 to $14,000 annually. However, they usually don’t get into D.C. schools if a resident is on that school’s waiting list.
“When nonresidents defraud District taxpayers and take seats in schools from District students, we hold them accountable,” Racine said in a prepared statement. “Over the past two years, my office has devoted more resources and hired new attorneys and investigators to fight residency fraud.”
“With this work, we are sending a message to nonresidents that breaking the law to send their children to District schools carries serious consequences.”
The three suits allege that parents falsified D.C. residency to send their children to D.C. schools, and that they lied repeatedly in documents attesting to D.C. residency to avoid paying the nonresident tuition. It also cites D.C.’s False Claims Act, which allows the District to recover up to triple the amount owed in unpaid tuition.
The parents accused in Thursday’s suit include a couple from Upper Marlboro, Danielle Lewis Anderson and Christopher D. Anderson. According to the attorney general, the pair sent their child to a D.C. public charter school and then to two public schools from 2008 to 2016. The District is seeking $137,492 in unpaid tuition, as well as damages and penalties.
Claudine Nana Tchapchet and Habib Haviv Aziz Jah — of Accokeek and Hyattsville, respectively — are accused of sending their three children to District schools from 2011 to 2014. The attorney general seeks up to $82,026. Tchapchet is a former D.C. Public Schools employee.
And up to $108,557 is being sought from Michelle P. Osegueda-Williams and Donald Williams, of Huntingtown. They’re accused of sending their child to schools tuition-free for part of the 2004-2005 school year and from 2006 through 2013. Osegueda-Williams currently works in D.C.’s Office of Unified Communications; Williams is a Metro employee. Both previously worked for D.C. police.
These lawsuits follow a botched residency fraud investigation conducted by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education last year. That since-discredited report initially said more than a quarter of students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts didn’t actually live in D.C. Months later, a revision said most of the 219 students singled out initially were, in fact, wrongly accused.