PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester school officials have making headway in their investigations of students who may live outside the village.
The schools have already identified one student who is not a resident of Port Chester, and are currently investigating 12 more cases, according to Superintendent Edward Kliszus. Additionally, officials have also selected 10 percent of the student population at random, and are looking at their residency status.
The schools hired a former NYPD detective at the beginning of the year to address concerns that non-residents may be illegally attending Port Chester schools from other districts. The district has set up a tip line on the website for citizens to report suspected cases of non-resident students. Once the tip is received, a thorough investigation is begun.
"It's not just a document check, we actually physically make a check and we do that by actually going to the domicile or going through our staff members who personally know them," said Assistant Superintendent Frank Fanelli.
"Once we suspect that someone is not living in Port Chester, an initial letter goes out to them stating that, and then they're afforded an opportunity, and they have to come to a residency committee meeting and present documentation or proof that they're actually living in Port Chester," Fanelli said. If the student is found not to be living in the village, the family has the option to appeal, and the child will remain in the Port Chester school district until the Commissioner of Education makes a decision.
"Once we have been through the hearing process and individuals are exited from our schools, Mr. Fanelli will give me the dates that they illegally attended our schools, and i will send them a letter asking them to pay for the tuition back due," Kliszus said. "And that could be a lot of money. We have two right now that may go back as far as last January."
Fanelli said that the 10 percent random investigations really turns into 17 or 18 percent when you factor in siblings. He said that the investigations investigations may have a chilling effect on students from other districts attending Port Chester schools.
"With the increased awareness of us checking, sometimes folks will get an idea that they need to move before they get found out, so to speak," Fanelli said.
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