Crackdown on students enrolled falsely is sought

Councilman wants action by Balto. County schools

October 13, 2004|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County councilman wants to know what the county school system is doing to weed out students who live elsewhere but fraudulently attend county schools -- and he wants the force of a resolution behind his request.

Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat, said yesterday that parents have called him to complain that large numbers of out-of-county students attend the schools closest to the city-county border.

"I think it's pretty pervasive," he said.

At a County Council work session yesterday, Gardina introduced a resolution asking the schools to relay to the council and parent-teacher groups at schools with the greatest concerns information about their efforts to control the situation.

The resolution notes neighborhood "perception" about an "inordinate number of ineligible nonresident students."

Council Chairman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, said students get off mass transit buses from the city and onto buses bound for Catonsville High School.

"I share your concern, having lived at the city-county line," Moxley said during the work session.

But he asked whether the council should try sending a letter requesting the information instead of passing a resolution.

Gardina said he has tried asking and gotten nowhere.

A resolution would show the school system that the seven-member council is united in its concern and its desire for information, he said later.

"I think a resolution coming from the entire council sends a message," Gardina said.

The issue ultimately affects the budget in terms of the cost to educate students and to alleviate crowding at schools, he said.

School officials "downplay the issue," he said. "Bottom line, I just don't think they're aggressive enough."

A school system spokeswoman pointed yesterday to the district's rules on nonresident students, which require the withdrawal of "fraudulently" enrolled students less than two weeks after a principal gives notice of the discovery. Parents are liable for the cost of the education during the time the student was enrolled, according to the school system rules.

Spokeswoman Diana Spencer also pointed out that some out-of-county students are allowed under school system policy if they meet certain criteria.

"There are a number of categories ... in which students have the right to be in a school even though they don't live in the neighborhood," she said.

A vote on the resolution is scheduled for Monday's council meeting.

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