Maryland Students Jump to D.C. Schools Say 'Border Crossers' Cost City Thousands

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 16, 2004 | Go to article overview

Maryland Students Jump to D.C. Schools Say 'Border Crossers' Cost City Thousands


Byline: Sean Salai, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

D.C. public school officials say at least 55 students from Montgomery and Prince George's counties illegally enroll each year in city schools, adding that they do not know how many city students cross borders into suburban schools.

"We sure do catch students coming from Maryland," said Julianne Wade, residency coordinator for D.C. schools. "It happens at schools in well-established neighborhoods, where parents live in Maryland but work in the District. It also happens at our specialty schools, like Duke Ellington School for the Arts."

The District last year withdrew 55 students whose illegal enrollments were costing the city an average of $7,000 per student in lost tuition, said Ms. Wade, adding that her office catches about that many students every year.

There is no way the District can track how many city students are illegally enrolling in suburban schools, she said. "There's nothing we can do to capture those numbers."

Suburban students illegally enrolled in city schools add to a list of problems being weathered by the D.C. school system. Earlier this year, the federal government reported that 83 of 151 D.C. schools failed to meet national standards in reading, math or both last school year.

Meanwhile, school officials have laid off hundreds of teachers and aides to balance the budget and have been dealing with security issues arising from the fatal shooting of a student inside Ballou High School in February. City officials have been sparring over who should control the school system while searching for a permanent superintendent since the abrupt resignation of Paul L. Vance in November.

The Washington Times reported last week that as many as 2,000 - or 20 percent - of Montgomery County's 11,000 eighth-graders whose parents missed a June 4 deadline to prove their residency will not be allowed to enroll at county high schools this fall. The county asked parents to submit documents such as lease agreements, property tax bills, credit-card statements or utility bills to prove their residency.

In addition, The Times reported Monday that Prince George's County school officials are considering emulating Montgomery's residency check.

Officials in both counties said many of the illegally enrolled students they have discovered live in the District.

D.C. officials acknowledged a recent decline in their enrollment that corresponds with enrollment increases in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

According to D.C. schools enrollment officer Ralph H. Neal, the number of city school children fell from 67,522 in the 2002-03 school year to 65,099 in October of the current school year. …

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