By Mark F. Gray
Sixteen families in the D.M.V. are being sued by the District of Columbia, who seeks more than $2.9 million from parents it says falsified residency records to enroll their children in public schools for free. A few of those parents are also accused of residency fraud to receive public assistance.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced on Sept. 5 that the city is seeking more than $2.9 million from parents who are the latest to be charged in the ongoing investigation. The case into residency fraud includes allegations against five current or former government workers including District of Columbia Police Officer Edward Smith.
District residents are allowed to enroll their children in city public schools for free. On the other hand, those who live outside of the District must pay at least $10k a year in tuition to enroll their children in DCPS schools. D.C. law allows authorities to seek triple the amount owed in unpaid tuition if found guilty of fraud.
This is the second time this year that Attorney General Racine’s office filed more than half a dozen cases before the court. In March, the D.C. Attorney General’s Office filed lawsuits against seven people for falsely claiming residency in the District only to send their children to D.C. public schools for free. In those lawsuits, the city sought more than $700k in unpaid tuition and penalties.
“Residency fraud not only cheats our taxpayers, but it also hurts District children who play by the rules, and frequently rely on the school lottery process to attend the schools of their choice,” Mr. Racine said in a statement at that time. “Our office will continue to bring actions against any individuals who try to fraudulently take advantage of free schooling for District students.”
Racine said his office is committed to aggressively pursuing those who abused D.C.’s policies. The parents named in the most recent lawsuits either lived in Maryland or Virginia while their child attended District schools. They are accused of enrolling their children as District residents and sending their children to District schools while neglecting to pay out-of-state tuition.
In three cases, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that parents lied about being D.C. residents in order to receive Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF benefits. Defendants allegedly made statements claiming they lived at addresses in the District.
These parents who sent their children to D.C. schools were required to submit enrollment forms and residency verification forms for each of their children. Allegedly, the parents in question illegally used District addresses that belonged to other individuals on the official forms, then signed sworn statements stating they lived in the District.
This article originally appeared in The Afro.