Parents sued $27,911 for sending kid to wrong school, falsifying place of residence

Sheryl Nadler
Shine On
June 20, 2012

A couple in Connecticut may pay a very high price for trying to get the best possible education for their child — $27,911 dollars, to be exact.

The Associated Press reports the Kieras family of Seymour, Connecticut stands accused of falsifying their place of residence so their daughter could attend school in nearby Westport, a school that was ranked among the best in the state by U.S. News and World Report. They're now being sued by the Westport school district for more than $27,000 to compensate for the money Westport taxpayers spent educating their daughter for two years.

"The primary objective is simply to recoup the expenses and use those funds for the benefit of Westport residents," Catherine S. Nietzel, the attorney representing the school board, tells the Associated Press. "If it happens to have a secondary effect of deterring others, I don't think anybody would be unhappy."

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The Kieras family isn't the first to attempt to "boundary hop" for the sake of their child's education. The story goes on to say the problem is so bad in neighbouring Weston, the school board has hired private investigators to follow children home after school to verify they actually sleep in the school district.

The problem of "boundary hopping" appears to be such a big issue in some areas in the United States, a new online service has been developed called VerifyResidence.com that can, within 72 hours, produce a Residency Audit Report for school boards, reports eSchoolNews.com. The service might be a big help to school districts like the one in Napa Valley, California, where "300 out of 680 high school freshmen left one school for another in a single school year," says the story.

But what about here, in Canada? Do we have a problem with school district "boundary hopping?" A quick google search suggests the problem, if it exists at all, is not chronic.

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Doug Hadley, communications coordinator of the Halifax Regional School Board, says he's not aware of a "boundary hopping" issue in the province. Procedures are in place for parents who would like to place their child in a school outside of their own district. But it's a simple application process, he says, and as long as there's room in the school, it's usually approved.

"I have heard of cases anecdotally … where people may have signed over guardianship to a fellow relative because they would like the child to go to school in a district," says Hadley. "But that would be something that's allowed to be done."

He says no one school in the Halifax area stands out as being a hot spot for enrollment, but some parents might want their child to attend a school on their commute route. Others who live in rural areas, might want their children to attend school in the city.

As for consequences for parents who are found to be falsifying their place of residence, Hadley says he's not aware of an existing case. But should it happen, "the decision would be made in what is believed to be the interest for the child."

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