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Port Chester Schools To Increase Residency Investigations

School officials will begin more investigations into out-of-district residents attending Port Chester schools.
School officials will begin more investigations into out-of-district residents attending Port Chester schools. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- This year the Port Chester school district will be taking a closer look at students who may be attending village schools but don't actually live in the district.

"Residency is an ongoing issue," said Superintendent Edward Kliszus.

There has been some concern in the village over the past couple years of students coming from other towns and districts to attend Port Chester schools, leaving Port Chester taxpayers to foot the bill for their education. There has been a similar concern in Greenwich, where school officials have become more stringent about verifying students' residency. Kliszus said the administration had considered doing a district-wide census to make sure that all students live where their registration paperwork says they live, but that option wasn't viable.

Another option was having everybody in the district re-register their children for school. However, Kliszus said it's too late for that to happen this year. An office would have to be set up over the course of several months.

"Usually people get very upset about that, if they've been living here for years and now they have to provide birth certificates and deeds and everything else," he said. "You'll discover that 99 percent of the people are here legitimately, and many of them are not happy with that kind of scrutiny, regardless of the fact that you may have people here who don't belong."

The school is considering hiring somebody either full or part time to handle investigations into residency. That person could either investigate by alphabet or by neighborhood, or Kliszus said that they could just do random investigations. For free and reduced lunches, the government requires that the district do random investigations of three percent of the students.

"It could be done in exactly the same manner, where you do three percent of the population on a random basis," Kliszus said. "You could do residency investigaions, where you make sure that children live where they're supposed to live."

Tom Corbia, a member of the school board and former teacher, said that he is constantly asked by people what the district is doing about rumors of people coming from out of district to attend school.

"This is definitely an issue that doesn't go away and I think whatever we've been doing, we need to address it and get more proficient at it," he said.

The district has a person who conducts investigations right now, usually when a school mailing gets returned or a teacher tries calling a parent and gets no response. That person's duties will be increased 10 hours a week to devote to residency investigations, and the district may consider adding a part-time or full-time employee to handle investigations. The district will also be adding a tip line to its website, so if parents suspect somebody may live out district, they can anonymously tip off the schools.

The Board of Education will vote on increasing investigations at its Aug. 29 meeting.

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