LA GRANGE, KY (WAVE) - Parents are being accused of lying, cheating and stealing in the name of education.
The problem of parents using phony addresses to get their kids into desirable school districts is one the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department has been digging into for months. We have uncovered that it's happening in places you haven't heard about. Parents are going to extremes not to get caught and it could be costing your children's education.
Geography is becoming a tricky subject in our public schools. Parents who live in one place are using fake addresses to send their kids to other school districts with better reputations. We discovered nowhere is the problem bigger than in Oldham County.
"A child loses, because a child is being asked by a trusted parent to lie every day at school about where he or she lives," said Dan Orman, Assistant Superintendent of Oldham County Public Schools.
High test scores and a smaller student population have earned Oldham County the unofficial title of best public school district in the area.
"And that is for many reasons very attractive to parents to come to a smaller school system," Orman said.
The WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department learned fake addresses hit an all-time high in Oldham County this year. The school system has investigated 83 students and their parents for lying about where they live with reports of residency violations in 11 of Oldham County's 17 schools.
Court records obtained by the Troubleshooter Department reveal many of those cases were closed after the families voluntarily pulled their kids out of school or moved into the district. But three parents are now charged with theft, accused of stealing taxpayer money spent to educate the out-of-county kids. Orman said more criminal charges could come.
"But again, we're not police officers or detectives," Orman said. "We're educators. And we'd like to spend a lot more time educating."
Oldham County is the only school district in the state to prosecute parents for the alleged scheme but not the only one dealing with the issue. The WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department uncovered 19 students in Bullitt County were forced to withdraw from school this year after getting caught using fake addresses. The director of Pupil Personnel said all 19 actually live in Jefferson County. That's also the home school district for a majority of the students caught using fake addresses in Oldham County. We discovered at JCPS the losses are starting to add up.
"If we have a student residing in our district going to Oldham County schools and they're getting the money for that student then yes we would be losing student funds," said Barbara Ayers, JCPS Director of Pupil Personnel.
We did some digging and found out JCPS loses out on $1,751 per year for every student who enrolls somewhere else. That's not counting additional money JCPS would get if the student qualified for state extras.
We asked JCPS what the total impact that has on its other 98,000 students, but the district said it can't estimate the losses because it doesn't know for sure just how many families are lying to send their children other places.
Ayers said she does not think the controversial Student Assignment Plan is causing more families to use fake addresses to get enrolled in other school districts.
"I really don't think so," Ayers said.
But we uncovered JCPS has its own problem with student assignments. Numbers obtained by the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department reveal the school district has caught 113 students using fake addresses this fall. Nearly all of them are students who live in Jefferson County who don't want to attend the school they're assigned to. The school most affected in the district is Pleasure Ridge Park High School where the district caught 19 of its students using fake addresses.
"Lots of people want to go to PRP so they'll use any means to try and get there," Ayers said.
JCPS investigation records obtained by the Troubleshooter Department show one PRP student was registered to a vacant house with no walls. Another used the address of a mobile home pad with no mobile home on it
Ayers said when parents are confronted about using a phony address the usually try to deny it. But there's no denying the geography lesson they end up learning.
Our investigation revealed parents who lie to avoid sending their children to JCPS do it because of busing concerns and low test scores. Orman said those are flawed arguments.
"It fascinates me when a parent says but my child will be bused 11 miles," Orman said. "But you drive that child 28 miles, one way. Twice a day. It doesn't make sense to me."
According to Orman the families who live in Jefferson County need to give the Jefferson County Public Schools a chance.
Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:02 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:02:03 GMT
The World Food Program says it provided food to a record 4.1 million people inside Syria last month.More >>
Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warning President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. airstrikes against the militant...More >>
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
31 people are in trouble with the law after a three day prostitution sting in Richmond. Police told NBC12 they targeted specific areas where residents and business owners complained about the illegal activity.More >>