The Kettering City School District has instituted new rules for confirming students attending their schools for free live in the district after discovering that more than 100 of their students in the past two years didn’t live in the city.
The district has hired an attendance officer and instituted stricter requirements to prove residency in the wake of their investigation into inappropriate attendees, officials said.
Those students are not paying tuition to the district, which is district policy for anyone who wants to attend and live outside of the district. Kettering is not an open-enrollment district, which are those that allow students from other districts to attend tuition-free.
“It does cost us dollars and we must be accountable to the taxpayers in Kettering. We are putting forth a very conscientious effort to ensure that the taxpayers’ dollars are used appropriately,” Superintendent Scott Inskeep said. “Whether it is intentionally or unintentionally — some cases could be accidentally committed — our obligation is to follow the law in Ohio which is very clear as far as residency goes.”
Ohio public schools are funded by public tax dollars. All children of school age in Ohio are entitled to attend the public schools in the district of their school residence without a charge, according to the Ohio Department of Education. There are three levels of accepting students, ODE spokesperson Brittany Halpin said.
“A district can say no to open enrollment or accept applications from parents residing in adjacent school districts or accept applications from parents residing in any Ohio school district,” she said.
Kettering doesn’t require financial information for enrollment, but it does require proof of residency.
“We do not require a parent who is registering a child in grades K-12 to provide financial information,” said Kari Basson, coordinator of Community Relations and Auxiliary Services for Kettering schools. “We … require a parent to present a lease or mortgage, as well as an original, current DP&L or Vectren bill (paper or electronic) that has their name and their address on the bill as proof of residency.”
Basson said the district’s investigation showed that 137 students were attending Kettering schools inappropriately in 2016-17, and 85 did so in 2017-18.
The district has changed enrollment procedures to ensure the students who attend Kettering schools actually live there.
“When we hired our attendance officer and went to a central registration department two years ago, we did institute more strict requirements for showing proof of residency than we had required in the past,” Basson said.
Basson said Kettering chose to not be an open-enrollment district, meaning it was a district that wanted to serve only the students in its area without the addition of tuition.
Kettering is now paying closer attention to the documentation presented by a parent or guardian when they come in to register their child for school.
“Our registrar can pull this information from the Montgomery County Auditor’s website or the homeowner can bring in documentation to show that they are the lawful owner of the home,” Basson said. “If renting or leasing, the parent or guardian must present the original and entire lease or rental agreement when registering a child for school.”