Sunday, January 17, 2010

90210|LOCALS ONLY: “Show me your papers!” + smf 2¢

All Beverly Hills students soon may be required to prove their residency. The school board plans to expel those who have been lying about where they live under a plan to recertify every family in the 4,900-student district.

By Carla Rivera | LA Times |

17 Jan -- One student enrolled in Beverly Hills High School this year using a virtual address obtained on the Web. Other Beverly Hills students have falsely claimed to live with grandparents or cousins who reside in the city. Unethical owners of Beverly Hills properties have even sold mailing addresses to out-of-area students.

The use of fraudulent addresses to enroll in the city's acclaimed schools is an age-old problem, according to officials with the Beverly Hills Unified School District who recounted these examples.

But such deceptions soon may be harder to carry out under a proposed plan to recertify every family in the 4,900-student district and expel those who have been lying about where they live.

The district already has a full-time employee who investigates cases of questionable residency, and about 150 students annually are asked to leave. But there may be hundreds more students using fake addresses to attend school illegally, officials said.   >>story continues>>

New families that register to attend the city's schools are required to show proof of residency, including lease agreements, house titles and utility bills, identification such as children's Social Security numbers and documents verifying legal guardianship. They also are required to sign an affidavit swearing to the accuracy of the information.

But officials want all currently enrolled families to prove their residency again before the 2010-11 school year. In addition, officials hope that a recently established anonymous tip line will tempt more students and parents to turn in classmates using fake addresses.

An accurate count of legitimate students is essential as the district prepares to change its funding source to property tax revenues rather than attendance-based state money, officials said. In a controversial decision, the school board voted last week to end special permits provided to hundreds of students who live outside the city.

The recertification proposal has won general support. Some permit families, though, say the district should have dealt with the fake address issue before moving to restrict permits.

Board members argue that it is especially important that Beverly Hills taxpayers not have to subsidize the education of students who lie about their residency.

"Part of the problem is we have no idea of the scope of the problem," said board member Brian David Goldberg. "I've heard estimates of 100 to 500 students. Most families don't want to be tattletales or informants. But we can and should address this issue now."  >>story continues>>


●●smf ‘s 2¢:  My friend and colleague Elizabeth Bar El makes an excellent point in her letter to The Timesbut the Beverly Hills School Board is playing with fire.  Eventually they are going to have to lay-off teachers to meet the decreased enrollment they have caused.

 The LAUSD Board does the same when it gives schools to outside operators.

Seniority rules and bumping will trigger all the same things that declining enrollment bring on in any school district: Poor staff morale, unhappy unions, dissatisfied parents, lower student achievement, decreased property values, declining tax base, etc. It’s called a slippery slope and gravity being gravity it only slips downward.

Beverly Hills is a retail marketplace – its tax base and business success relies on consumers from other than 90210 and 90212 spending their money in those zip codes. Maybe those “Locals Only” signs from the schools should go into the storefronts on Rodeo Road?

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