I am definitely all for this. If there’s any way to get those that don’t belong in the UD School system, I say go for it!
Illegal students to face theft charge?
By Dan Russo, STAFF WRITER09/28/2006
School officials are researching legality of proposal in their ongoing efforts to crack down on non-resident students.
UPPER DARBY – A new tactic is being considered in the school district’s on-going efforts to crack down on non-resident students.
School officials are examining a proposal which would criminally charge students and their “support network” with theft of services if evidence is found that the students do not reside in the district.
“We are evaluating the details behind the scenes,” said Assistant Superintendent Louis F. DeVlieger. “We are researching the legal aspects of the proposal.”
Upper Darby Police submitted a document outlining the idea. It states that police would become involved in an investigation of a possible illegal student only if they had already come in contact with the student as a result of another incident.
“In other words, if a student is involved in a fight after school and the responding officer suspects he is an illegal student, that officer would forward his incident report to Sgt. [James] Reif,” states the proposal. “He would then contact the district, advise them, ascertain the student’s information and conduct an investigation … This can be likened to the same student being involved in a fight and the responding officer finding credit cards in another person’s name on the student. The officer and this department would be remiss if they did not follow up and investigate the suspected theft/fraud case.”
The district already routinely conducts its own investigations of suspected illegal students through its Central Registration Office. Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood stressed that it is not the proposal’s intention to interfere with the district’s existing system.
“What we’ve done in the past if we had information on suspected illegal students, we’d give that information to the school district,” said Chitwood. “With this proposal, we would get more involved. We would seek prosecutions for theft. We’re not trying to take their work away. We’re hoping to enhance the current efforts.”
Attendance Services Manager Jack Shingle, who supervises the district’s investigations, was among a group of school officials who testified before the Pa. House Republican Policy Committee last April to lobby for stricter laws regarding illegal students state-wide.
Officials argued that a significant influx of non-resident students has caused a financial burden on the district and the resident tax payers who fund it.
In 2005, the district instituted a re-registration of all students entering ninth grade and their siblings. A seven percent decline in enrollment was reported as a result. A similar initiative was undertaken for the 2006-2007 school year.
School Superintendent Joseph Galli reported on this year’s enrollment at the latest school board meeting Sept. 12.
The total enrollment for all schools in the district as of this month is 12,098. That’s an increase of about 60 students over 2005.
Galli explained that the official numbers were subject to change since the year had only just begun, but the re-registrations, did cut down on illegal students.
“We went from about 12,000 to 12,100,” Galli told the school board. “If we had not done this re-registration process, we would be looking at a population of over 13,000.”
Re-registration isn’t the only method officials have tried to deter non-residents from attending schools.
Shingle cooperated with School District Special Council Mary Alice Brennan last November to file about 20 civil suites in district and county courts seeking re-imbursement for a total of about $200,000 in costs from parents and guardians of students removed from the district for not being residents.
The importance of the non-resident student issue has been magnified in light of a large boost in enrollment in recent years.A school capacity task force has been formed in Upper Darby to find solutions for overcrowding at several district schools. Walter M. Senkow School in Glenolden opened last year in a leased facility to handle over-flow from Bywood Elementary School.
Bywood, for example, had 835 students in 2004-2005. About 223 of those students were transferred to Senkow in 2005-2006.
Upper Darby officials are not alone in experiencing issues with non-resident students.
William Penn School District officials have also openly discussed the problem. The district initiated a residency review program in November 2005. Student attendance was examined for six days. Students who were absent or tardy for four consecutive days were asked to prove their residency to William Penn’s registration coordinator. In all, 150 students were affected, according to the school district.