Bill sought to punish residency violators Educators requesting reimbursement from out-of-county students

December 13, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Carroll education officials want to crack down on individuals who violate school residency requirements, and they're asking the county's legislative delegation to help them do it.

Educators have asked legislators to sponsor a bill that would give them the authority to collect the appropriate reimbursement from out-of-county students who are enrolled illegally in Carroll schools.

"We felt the need to put an additional burden on those who knowingly and willfully attempt to defraud the state or the county," said William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of administration for Carroll schools.

Educators presented their request at a meeting yesterday with the county's General Assembly delegation to discuss school-related matters that may come up during the 1997 session.

The bill addressing illegal out-of-county students is the only new legislation being sought by the Carroll Board of Education and local school administrators.

The measure differs from an initiative already in place in Prince George's County because it addresses punitive as well as compensatory damages, or tuition charges.

The proposed legislation would require parents of potential out-of-county students to complete an "affidavit of disclosure" stating their legal residence.

If they are found to be using a false Carroll address, the disclosure bill would allow school officials to impose fines and recover the legal costs of efforts to recover tuition payments.

"Sometimes it costs us more to collect than the money they actually owe us," said Ed Davis, director of pupil services for county schools. "We want to let people know upfront that if they're giving us false information, there are penalties with it."

The annual tuition at a Carroll school for an out-of-county student within Maryland is about $3,000; charges for an out-of-state student are about $5,600, Davis said.

Sometimes, parents who live in a county bordering Carroll try to send a child to a school here because the school in their jurisdiction is not as close.

In some cases, families want to enroll their children in a Carroll school for a special program or class, Hyde said.

Carroll does not allow students whose parents live outside the county to attend school here, even if they offer to pay tuition, unless they show some other compelling reason, such as foster-care placement or legal guardianship by a county resident.

In instances where a family is building a home in Carroll, the school system will permit out-of-county students to attend local schools and waive tuition fees for a three- or four-month period.

Most instances of out-of-county students involve pupils who live in Baltimore, Frederick or Howard counties or Pennsylvania, school officials said.

They were unable to provide numbers on how many students are in violation of residency requirements.

Frequently, an illegal out-of-county student comes to the attention of school officials through pupil services workers or a teacher's attempt to contact a parent.

"Sometimes they're here more than a year or longer before it comes to our attention," Davis said.

In other business yesterday, school officials urged the county's delegation to oppose any measure that would reduce Carroll's budget for school construction, transportation and special education.

"One of the major messages we want to send is that we don't want any more state funding to be reduced," said Joseph D. Mish Jr., school board president. "We need all the funding we're getting, and we don't want to see any legislation passed that would weaken our power to control the school system."

School officials said that the county's $10 million special education budget is the third-largest item in the system's overall budget, behind instructional salaries and fixed charges, such as liability insurance. In some cases, the school system must pay tuition for disabled students at out-of-state private schools, where annual charges can range from $30,000 to $100,000, officials said.

"Sometimes we lose great amounts of money to send kids as far away as Boston," Hyde said.

School officials asked the delegation to oppose legislation that would require local school systems to notify all staff, students and parents before any application of pesticides or herbicides on school property.

From a logistical perspective, the legislation "could become a bit of a burden," Hyde said.

He said the use of pesticides and herbicides is infrequent at Carroll schools, where long-term preventive measures are favored. He said that residents who would like to be notified when such chemicals are used may register with the state Department of Agriculture.

Pub Date: 12/13/96

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