An update on the district's Residency Verification process has revealed there are nearly three dozen families whose children are enrolled in 9th grade at Greenwich High School, but have failed to verify their residency in Greenwich.
The somehwat disconcerting news was delivered in Monitoring Report E-051, Other District Administrative Operations by the district's administration at Thursday night's Greenwich Board of Education work session.
"The # Should Be Zero At This Point In The Year"
While the statistics indicate there are 48 families who have yet to comply with the residency verification, Managing Director of Operations Ben Branyan informed the board that the number is actually 35. However, Branyan commented that at this point in the year, the number should be zero.
The "redesigned residency verification forms are web based" and are available in both English and Spanish on the GPS website. While the Residency department does follow-up with second letters and other means of investigation, there still remains a number of outstanding verifications.
While Branyan reminded the board that the outstanding verifications are "just over 5%" of the total number of freshmen verified, he attributed it to "staff turnover" and the fact that "there is no teeth in the process."
"Are they experiencing language difficulty," asked board member Steve Anderson, "or are they just ignoring us?" Branyan said that a majority of the individuals simply state that they didn't realize that it was a requirement.
When pressed by board member Peter von Braun on "how long can students stay in the system," Branyan simply replied, "It's March." He went onto admit that the administration "dropped the ball."
Holding Parents Accountable
The administration plans on "correcting" the process and holding parents accountable. "There is no hard, fast date," Branyan said of a deadline to verify, only that "you do need to give them a reasonable amount of time" to do so.
While Branyan did not offer any concrete examples of accountability such as billing those who have failed to verify, he suggested that there needs to be "great coordination" with GHS. "We need to partner with the high school," he stated.
Board member Peter Sherr stated that he knows of a family who decided to test the system by not verifying their 9th-grader. He added that they just "got caught" a month ago.
Other Residency Statistics in the report from October 2012 to February 2013:
- 85 Investigations. 52 closed, 28 open waiting for utility bill, 5 open pending outcome of investigation.
- 7 students have been removed from the school system for non-residency.
- 123 new students. 89 have completed the process, 29 applications are still within the 45-day grace for utility bills, 5 families are overdue and have been sent letters.
Back in August 2012 Schools Superintendent William McKersie modified residency verification requirements by eliminating the need for a notarized affidavit from a resident's landlord.
"In January 2012, as part of a comprehensive review of residency verification requirements, a series of changes were made to the process to develop a more effective system. As with any new process it is important to review how well the steps work in the actual implementation. As a result of this review, district administration determined that a notarized Landlord Affidavit would no longer be required.
McKersie explained, “We are confident that we have maintained an effective process for verifying residency in Greenwich while eliminating a potentially undue burden of paperwork for families.”