Superintendent Hires Investigator to Ferret out Non-Residents. (Notebook: Usable Education Information from Schools, Business, Research and Professional Organizations)

Article excerpt

It happens in many districts. Students lie about where they live in order to be educated in a better school district. Such was the case in Mainland Regional High School District in Linwood, N.J. There school Superintendent Edwin Coyle went above and beyond what most superintendents do to find those who didn't belong. He hired a private investigator to find evidence on those believed to be sneaking in from other districts. When necessary, tactics included following students to their place of residence.

About 12 students out of 1,500 were found to be non-residents. The duplicity can cost a lot for the district. The per-student cost is $10,000. Unlike some districts, Mainland Regional does not allow students from out of district to pay tuition to attend. There are simply not enough teachers to handle a larger student body, Coyle says.

Coyle received much national attention for his methods. The Associated Press broke the story, which was picked up by National Public Radio. Coyle, however, is playing down the attention. "This is really a story about nothing," he says. "Every school district in New Jersey is concerned about non-resident students."

Coyle adds that Mainland Regional is not a wealthy district, as some media sources have suggested, but is a successful one. At least 80 percent of graduating seniors go on to college. …