The new school year has brought old issues forward for the area’s public schools, which can be considered magnets for students in the Chicago Public School System. Both Oak Lawn Community High School District No. 229 and Community High School District 218 have been enforcing their respective residency policies in an effort to protect local taxpayers.
The Board of Education and staff of District 229 recently announced that the enforcement of the policy has been strong during the summer leading up to the school year. The District set forth that violations of the residency law and board policy are subject to the following penalties:
• Mandatory tuition payments to District 229 ($15,424 per year)
• Misdemeanor criminal charges filed with the Cook County State’s Attorney Office
• Forced student withdrawal from Oak Lawn Community High School.
District 229 issued a statement stating that it was
… very proud of the educational opportunities that Oak Lawn Community High School offers our students on a daily basis. Our school has earned a strong reputation for exceptional academic and extracurricular programs. Because of this reputation, families have chosen to reside in District 229 to take advantage of the excellent schools that are available to their children. However, an unfortunate consequence of our school’s outstanding reputation is the temptation by some families to unlawfully enroll their children into OLCHS. It is a clear violation of state law to falsify documents and knowingly enroll a student into a public school when the family is not a legal resident of that school district.
District 229’s Board of Education authorized the use of private investigators to validate the residency of families enrolled at Oak Lawn Community High School. In addition, the administration, led by Superintendent Mike Riordan, make home visits to confirm that families are living in the residence that they report whenever they have reason to believe that a violation is occurring.
District 229 has asked for assistance from the community to report violations because the illegal attendance by students is paid for by local property taxpayers. If you know of a violation, you can share this information with the Superintendent’s office via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone at 708-741-5601. The sources of this information will remain confidential.
Similarly, Community High School District 218 has a policy that states:
Only students who are residents of the District may attend a District school without a tuition charge, except as otherwise provided below or in State law. A student’s residence is the same as the person who has legal custody of the student. A person asserting legal custody over a student, who is not the child’s natural or adoptive parent, shall complete a signed statement, stating: (a) that he or she has assumed and exercises legal responsibility for the child, (b) the reason the child lives with him or her, other than to receive an education in the District, and (c) that he or she exercises full control over the child regarding daily educational and medical decisions in case of emergency. In addition, the child’s natural or adoptive parent, if available, shall complete a signed statement or Power of Attorney stating: (a) the role and responsibility of the person with whom their child is living, and (b) that the person with whom the child is living has full control over the child regarding daily educational and medical decisions in case of emergency.
For students that move out of the district after starting the school year at 218 the policy allows the student to attend school for the remainder of the year without payment of tuition.
The District 218 policy does make another exception for “homeless children”:
Any homeless child shall be immediately admitted, even if the child or child’s parent/guardian is unable to produce records normally required to establish residency. Board policy 6:140, Education of Homeless Children, and its implementing administrative procedure, govern the enrollment of homeless children.