I-Team: Student Residency Crackdown

HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A school district in our region is taking aggressive  steps -- to crackdown on the practice of so-called "district jumping."
    That's when students who live outside of a school district attend classes in a district in which they do not reside.... that costs taxpayers dollars.
    The I-Team's Andy Mehalshick with the story.

"It's simple, if you live in the Hazleton School District then we want to you to come to school here. If you don't live within the Hazleton School District then you need to go to the school where you live."
 
And that is the bottom line so says Ed Harry, Director of Security for the Hazleton Area School district.. district admissions employees  say they are seeing a growing number of enrollment forms that raise questions.


 "They were coming in to me with paperwork that was suspect. Looking at it it was fraudulent, altered fraudulent documents copied..things were changed." said Harry

 
"We are looking at different cost saving measures across the district." said Brian Uplinger, Hazleton Area School District Superintendent

 He says districts like Hazleton area already up against it financially and cannot afford to spend money on students who should be attending classes in another school district.

 
"We have an inordinate amount of students coming into the district which is okay. I've said that before our doors are open.They are perfectly welcome to come here. We just want them to come legally." said Uplinger.


In only two months on the job..the investigator, a retired state trooper, identified 30 students who should not have been attending classes in Hazleton.
 
 

The district also loses money because the parents of these students who live out of the area and do not pay property  taxes to the district. 
Some of those students have already  dropped out of school. Others are attempting to move into the district legally..
Taxpayers we spoke with were happy to hear about the residency crackdown
 
"I don't want to pay for that. I want these kids to go to the school district that they're in." said Linda Lauer, of Drums

 
"If you live here you should be able to go to school here. If you don't live here you shouldn't." noted John Kriel, of Hazleton ,

Uplinger says the reason parents enroll their children in Hazleton Schools are many.--sometimes those parents  live in larger cities but do not want their kids to attend big city schools. So they live with family or friends..who are not their legal guardians. Parents who knowingly register  their kids in school districts in which they do not reside face serious penalties..including hefty fines..even jailtime..depending on the charges filed against them...For example forgery is a felony.


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