District to require more proof of residency

The district will require more proof of residency from students beginning this fall, after witnessing an increase in parents lying to get their kids in Ashland schools, the superintendent said this week.

"What we're seeing is more and more people not being honest about where they live," Superintendent Juli Di Chiro told the School Board Monday. "We're just trying to make it so there's a little more proof upfront."

The board voted 5-0 to approve the new proof-of-residency requirements Monday.

Last academic year district officials discovered that about 40 students were illegally enrolled in Ashland's schools, Di Chiro said.

Parents must now provide a real estate document, such as a mortgage statement or rental agreement, and another official document addressed to their home, such as a bank, insurance or utility statement. The documents must be dated within the past 30 days.

Telephone bills and driver's licenses will not be accepted, because they are not always an accurate reflection of a person's address, Di Chiro said.

Previously parents were required to provide one form of documentation, and driver's licenses were accepted, she said.

"We basically took people's word for it," Di Chiro said.

Under the new policy, parents will be required to provide the documents when enrolling their children for the first time in Ashland schools; when enrolling their children in kindergarten, sixth grade or ninth grade; and when enrolling their children to transfer to another school in the district.

Parents who don't have the correct documentation may be referred to the district's student services department for assistance in gathering the documents.

The district will help youths who are unaccompanied by parents, who reside in substandard housing or who don't have a permanent resident to register for school.

School districts receive funding for each enrolled child. If students enroll in a school outside their home district, the home district loses money, Di Chiro said.

"We need to be very vigilant on this because our surrounding districts want us to be that way and we want them to be that way," she said.

In the past, parents who lived outside the district sometimes successfully enrolled their children in Ashland schools. But if district officials later discovered the children lived outside the district, the students often had to move to another school, in the middle of the academic year.

"It becomes much more difficult for the students," Di Chiro said. "We've just seen a lot more of this happening, so we're trying to make it reasonable that you've given us enough documentation."

Parents sometimes lie to get their children into Ashland schools because the schools have a reputation for being academically strong, she said.

"I think the perception is that the schools are better and that's where they want their children to go," she said.

Students who live outside the district's boundaries can apply to receive an inter-district transfer to attend Ashland schools. The student's home district and Ashland School District must approve the transfer. Ashland typically approves transfers as long as there is space in the school the child is requesting to attend, Di Chiro said.

For the coming academic school year, district officials expect there to be plenty of space for transfer students at Ashland middle and high schools, but little at the elementary schools, she said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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