Residency Specialist Listed as Unfunded School Need

by ARLnow.com March 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm 4,651 121 Comments

Arlington Public Schools need a full-time residency verification specialist, according to Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, but such a position isn’t provided for in the school system’s proposed budget.

Dr. Murphy listed the residency verification specialist as an “unfunded operational need” during his school budget presentation last month. So far, APS has only employed a part-time residency specialist to complete the “very labor intensive” process of researching the residency of students.

“One of the issues that we often hear from time to time is there are folks that are attending our schools who do not actually reside in our school division,” Dr. Murphy said. “While we’ve had a part-time position dedicated to that on a very small basis, I’m finding the need [for a full-time position] as we look at… the number of students that may be attending our schools that are not residents.”

“I think it’s a responsibility incumbent upon us as an organization using citizen tax dollars to make sure that those kids who are getting an education here are, in fact… residents of Arlington,” Dr. Murphy added.

Word that non-residents may be attending Arlington schools comes as APS is facing a system-wide capacity crisis.

While the need may be there, the residency verification specialist is listed along with an expanded elementary school foreign language program, additional Montessori classes and new print shop equipment as needs that won’t be funded in the FY 2013 budget currently under consideration. Dr. Murphy is hoping to find money for those and other unfunded needs in a future budget.

The Arlington County School Board will present the proposed budget to the Arlington Civic Federation tonight. A public hearing on the FY 2013 budget will be held at Thursday’s School Board meeting around 7:30 p.m.

  • South Awwwlington

    Won’t even touch this with a 10 foot pole. Headline should read: “Arlington County PS faces Capacity Crisis, Tin Eared County Board Continues to Overdevelop and Espouse the Need to Provide Affordable Family Housing.”

  • Autoexec.bat

    Interested in hearing from parents of Arl. Co. students: Where are the education stealers coming from? DC? PG? Alexandria?

    • dave schutz

      When I go through the kiss ‘n’ drop lines at TJ Middle and at Long Branch, I see a fair number of DC and Maryland plates. I understand that there are legitimate reasons for this – mostly when the noncustodial parent in a divorce lives in Arlington – but I think tasking snitches with looking at plates at the dropoffs would be fruitful.

      • awh hells bells

        Snitches get stitches.

      • awh hells bells

        There are other ways to determine residency than McCarthyism 2.0 and tattling on the parents of your children’s peers.

        • BoredHouseWife

          by hiring a residency specialist:)

        • drax

          It’s not McCarthyism. Go look up that word.

          Tattling is what little kids do just to get others in trouble. This is protecting our tax dollars and overcrowding schools.

          • “Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of Republican U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, “McCarthyism” soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries.”


            Tattling IS what little kids do to get others in trouble. It would be unfortunate if some parents would consider this appropriate behavior to engage in on their own behalf under the guise of protecting tax dollars/overcrowding of schools. It’s my contention that ‘tasking snitches with looking at the plates at dropoffs’ is intrusive and in bad taste. Suppose these children are being dropped off by a relative, a nanny, or somebody else the parent tasked with dropping their child off. It doesn’t seem like the most efficient way of establishing residency or hypothetical use of taxes. Perhaps a trip to Pedanticstan is in order.

          • Arlington, Northside

            Enforcing the law, and keeping our teacher-student ratios, as well as limiting the need for “modular” classrooms, is not tattiling or McCarthyism. I would expect parents to look into things a bit more than just the licence plates of the vehicle dropping a kid off before they report them.

          • stephanie

            thank you!!!

            I’ve had to deal with this issue and it’s because of license plates!! I own a home in Maryland and I own a home in Arlington. My ex-husband resides in the home in Maryland and our vehicles are registered to that address. They’re in his name!

            Another parent I speak with frequently also had to deal with this because of license plates. Her car was in the hands of a bad mechanic for over six weeks and she was borrowing a relatives second vehicle.

            SHEESH PEOPLE!!

      • Choogirl

        There are quite a few people who bought in my building who also own larger homes in the suburbs of Maryland. They choose to keep Maryland tags on their cars even though they live in Arlington Monday-Friday. You can’t be too quick to judge someone’s residency based on their car tag.

        • Joe

          Tell that to Frank O’Leary.

      • nom de guerre

        To Dave Schutz-if the “noncustodial parent in a divorce” is the one that lives in Arlington-why are the children attending school in a jurisdiction that they don’t live in?

      • Likely military

        I believe there are some extensions for transfers and out of district students for military personnel (I could be wrong, but I think this is true)… if one were working at FT Myer or the Pentagon both are close to TJ and Long Branch, so if that’s the case it’s possible many of the DC/MD plates belong to them.

        • Choogirl

          I’m unsure of the policies in place at Ft. Myer or the Pentagon but military families who live on post at Bolling in DC may choose which school their children go to.

          • Likely military

            I wouldn’t send my kids to the school outside Bolling. 😉

            I’m also not sure if it’s living at vs working at because I know Myer does do some officer housing and small enlisted barracks, but limited family housing for the in between so even if they’re detailed to Myer they often live elsewhere… so who knows, but it could lead to some of the plates noted at those specific schools because of the Arlington schools those 2 are pretty military family-heavy from my understanding.

          • dk

            Actually, when I lived in DC and my children attended a public school in Georgetown (which was excellent, BTW), many of the students were from Bolling. A full-size school bus was needed to transport them.

          • Likely military

            But that’s still not the school or district attached to Bolling, just FYI they chose that school because it’s one of the few top schools in DC, so I still stand by that I would not send my child to the schools directly outside Bolling

          • Arlington, Northside

            Military kids at Bolling can choose the DC school they wish to attend, they can’t come to an Arlington School though just because there parent works at Ft. Meyer, the Pentagon, or some Arlington Office Building.

        • Zimmy

          Nope…You can’t attend APS unless you live in Arlington. It’s a state law. So just because you live outside of Arlington and work at Ft. Myer or the Pentagon does not mean you can send your child to school here.

  • Into the Night

    Need to use GPS chip implants on all APS students and see where they go to sleep at night.

  • Jefferson

    Arlington parent here. When we moved to Arlington and registered our kids for school, we had to bring in a copy of a lease or a deed, and they looked at it pretty carefully. It’s not the honor system. I’d be surprised if non-resident students really made up a significant part of the capacity crises.

    A far bigger cause of the capacity crisis is the school board’s long-standing failure to build new schools and expand the old ones. Enrollment has been on an upward trend for the past twenty years, and the board has only now started a process to add more permanent classrooms. Instead, they’ve using band-aid solutions like raising class sizes and adding trailers.

    • Arlwhenver

      Fraud is rampant — quick way to make $50 is for a resident to excecute a bogus sublease with an APS student or parent.

      • Gwen

        Exactly. Once I brought in that paperwork 7 years ago, I was never asked again, even though we had moved in with my parents at that time and had the kind of situation that should have raised some suspicion. My kids tell me that they have several friends who live out of county — often kids whose families moved out but still keep sending their kids to school here.

        And then, there was the friend who asked me if I’d be willing to sign papers claiming that she was renting from me, even though they were moving to Alexandria, so that her child could continue to go to Arlington schools. I wouldn’t do it, and it made me very uncomfortable. I think for a lot of people, it isn’t just that they like our schools better, it’s that the kids don’t want to change schools and they are trying to placate them.

    • Josh S

      I imagine if you bothered to look at the capital spending of APS over the last ten years you’d see quite a bit of building and expanding. Certainly, it may not have been enough. But you can’t claim that APS has been doing nothing.

      • Arlington, Northside

        It was wrongly placed construction, as well as under construction. W&L is a brand new school and already over capacity.

    • Neathridge

      As an Arlington parent the last time round of overcrowding (late 1990’s), I never saw any evidence of non-residents, and we were very active in our children’s schools. The recession has had a bigger influence on overcrowding than lack of school attention to the issue. In fact, at one point just a few years ago, the projections were that school population would drop off sharply … but people stopped moving out of the county and more young families stopped going nonpublic school routes.

  • Peggy

    I am sure ICE would be happy to handle this residency conundrum for them. No charge.

    • South Awwwlington

      and I bet some of them read this blog too…

    • zzzzz

      This isn’t about students who are not legal residents of the US. It’s about students who attend Arlington public schools but do not live in Arlington.

      • Peggy

        ICE will figure out what the schools need to know, which is where the parent’s legal residence is.

        • AllenB

          Um, no they won’t. ICE doesn’t care where you go to school as long as you’re a citizen or legal resident of the US. No has any proof that the problem is caused by illegal immigrants. Or do you blame everything on them?

          • Peggy

            Um, yes they will. By determining legal residency, they determine where the legal residence is, which is how Arlington could use the information to help determine if their children belong in Arlington schools.

            You missed the glaringly obvious point because you immediately made the incorrect assumption I was focusing on legal US residency. So wrong.

          • AllenB

            Unless you have a reason to suspect that someone is an illegal resident of the US, ICE has no jurisdiction.

            Here is ICE’s mission from their website: “ICE’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration. The agency has an annual budget of more than $5.7 billion dollars, primarily devoted to its two principal operating components – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).”

            How does someone from another jurisdiction sending their kid to an Arlington Public School fit into that?

          • drax

            The point is that illegal immigrants are similar to jurisdiction-hoppers. Not the same, but similar.

          • Sam

            Peggy you’re way off base here. I think you need to do some research into ICE and the work that they conduct. Reading the mission statement AllenB copied would be a good start.

          • Josh S

            Pegster, what do you think ICE’s mission is? They could care less about whether Johnny lives in Arlington or Alexandria, as long as he’s a US citizen. They would turn down any request to get involved in this “scandal” faster than you can say “Close the borders!”

          • drax

            I think people are making the point that illegal immigrants may be as much or more of a burden on the schools as those simply from out of the county.

    • Just the Facts

      Um, no they wouldn’t. ICE doesn’t care about otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants. There are too many of them and ICE has higher priorities. I don’t agree with it but it’s true.

  • southarlington

    It is about time they do this …to answer someone’s above question they are coming from MD, DC and Fairfax.

    • Jefferson

      Where’s the evidence that this is a big problem? Murphy says only that it’s “one of the issues that we often hear from time to time.” Really? Who does he hear it from? How do they know?

      Sounds like Murphy might be trying to shift the blame for his own role in failing to deal with the capacity crisis.

      • replytothat

        maybe the “evidence” is that there is something unfair about it? maybe other parents don’t want to subsidize the education of non-Arl kids? How about not asking stupid questions, Jefferson.

        • AllenB

          What was the stupid question?

        • drax

          That’s not “evidence,” replytothat.

        • Josh S

          Sure it’s unfair, but is it really a substantial issue? If five people are doing it systemwide, it’s not a problem. If 500 are, then OK. So the question is – where the evidence / reason to believe that it is closer to 500 than 5?

      • southarlington

        You know it is a problem when you see more DC and MD plates in the drop off and pick up line then you do VA …does it take a genius to tell you that more people are taking advantage of the system . Let’s see they may be paying tution to come to Claremont but I highly doubt it…People lie about where they live to get there kids into a better school system. Wakefield also has this same problem…

        • Arlington, Northside

          I know a few kids from south Arlington attending our non-magnet north Arlington Elementary School. It is a problem from outside and within the county.

          • John Snyder

            And what, exactly, is the problem with that?

    • westoverhood

      and Woodbridge

      • Gwen

        I’ve also heard about classmates from Woodbridge. Maybe they are the same family, who knows. But both my kids (middle and high in north arlington) have told me of classmates who come from Woodbridge, DC, and various places in Fairfax county. These aren’t the kids of teachers — I think most of them are kids whose parents did live here at one point but decided to move and keep driving their kids back to school in Arlington.

  • jslanger

    Back in AZ where I grew up, this was a big problem, actually. I went to the better school district on the north side of the city, and MANY people were known to find a cheap apt in the district to rent as their “residence” so their kid could go to the schools. Or they would use a family member’s address and just get their mail sent there.

    Now, for APS, I wonder how much a full-time checker would cost, and how many students are lying (and the per student cost)…I wonder where the math would fall.

    • Hahaha cheap apartment

      In Arlington? Where? Will they be at the housing event trying to get money for their fake residency. Ah!

      • Stitch_Jones


  • Stitch_Jones

    If indeed there is a need for this, let us please cut something ineffective out of the school budget first instead of simply tacking on to the bill. Because this will likely start with one position that requires a department and more people and administrators to assist those new hires, etc.

    So please, let’s look at what Arlington County Schools do badly or inefficiently in the current processes and eliminate or streamline them first.

    Wishful thinking, I know.

  • MC

    Following the farce of the affordable housing “crisis” — where out-of-county residents are recruited to fill county-taxpayer-subsidized units — I want more proof there is indeed a school capacity crisis: too few places to education children of bona fide residents. This “crisis” word is being used too loosely. Let’s get an independent auditor to give us an accounting – I can’t trust the politically-driven motivations of some of the people characterizing the conditions.

  • Whatevs

    Hello, Patrick? Bill Clinton called. He wants his 1994 tie back.

    • Thought it was just me


  • PikerGirl

    My condo used to have non-residents of our condo parking in our front lot while they waited for their kids to board the school bus. Someone checked with APS and they said that the bus was only supposed to be picking up students that lived in our building. APS said they would followup with bus drivers to make sure they were picking up only the kids that they were supposed to. Other owners that noticed this parking traffic claimed that these kids were probably not from Arlington County but were attending Arl Co schools. I think some of them said the cars were not from Arlington County. I thought the whole thing bizarre.

    • dk

      When my son was in first grade, he took the bus home from Glebe every afternoon and was dropped at one of the condo/apartment complexes on Old Lee Highway though we did not live there. This was the most convenient way for me to come from work to meet him. I waited for him in my car in the condo parking lot. With my legally acquired VA plates and ArCo sticker. Neither the bus driver nor the school had a problem with this. Why should they?

  • replytothat

    I hear from a friend in Bethesda that this is a major issue there. Also, I personally know an apartment owner in Falls Church who was offered 500 bucks for a fake lease. Seems kind of on the low side to me.

  • APSteacher

    As an APS teacher, I definitely know of at least a few students of the 130 or so on my rosters this year who are attending APS while living elsewhere without a legit reason.

    Teachers aren’t going to go tell the admin about a student of theirs who isn’t a resident – we love our students and want to teach them, no matter where they are from. Thats why we need someone who is solely dedicated to this issue. As it stands right now, using my incredibly limited sample size, I would estimate that the county has at least 50-100 students enrolled that shouldn’t be.

    Obviously this isn’t a solution to the capacity crisis that the school board has definitely helped to create, but think about this…

    If per pupil spending is over $18,000 a year, and there are at least 50 students inappropriately enrolled, it would save the county $900,000 per year (in the end). This position would cost less than $80,000 to staff. Sounds like a huge net gain to me based on conservative estimates.

    • I don’t want to make you out as Viola Swamp (or the male equivalent) but I would be interested in hearing your opinion as to why you suspect some of the students in your roster are not Arlington residents. It’s good to have a teachers perspective regarding this issue.

      • westoverhood

        different APS employee….sometimes the kids tell you….

    • Haupt

      Your savings estimates are way off. Removing one kid doesn’t remove $18K from the total budget. The base costs are unlikely to budge (building, maintenance, support staff). Plus, the position would be unlikely to provide the same returns year over year after kicking out the initial batch of offenders.

      • dave schutz

        Well, it’s lumpy – but that goes both ways. Sometimes a couple of kids (Aliens! From Annandale!) are what pushes you over the line for another teacher for the 4th grade for a particular school, and then those kids cost you a whole classroom and a teacher – let’s say they are $85,000 each. More, if you have to set up a relocatable classroom to expand that grade at that school. And sometimes a couple of kids go smoothly into existing classrooms and so they cost you $3000 each.

      • drax

        When we’re looking at building new schools due to expanding enrollment, removing kids may indeed save a bundle.

      • dave schutz

        This guy says about 2/3 of the costs to the public school go away when a kid goes to a charter school: http://www.edchoice.org/Research/Reports/The-Fiscal-Effects-of-School-Choice-Programs-on-Public-School-Districts.aspx

  • Andrew

    Here’s a thought: Hire a private eye firm and have them check and report. Probably cheaper than having someone full time.

  • Paco Wellington III

    The schools have a $400 million budget and the superintendent cannot find $50,000?

    I guess we should just trust that the other $399,950,000 is being spent only for absolutely essential matters.

    • Haupt

      Wait, you’re upset that they have a strict budget? Would you rather they make it up as they go along?

    • Like sales trips?

      Going to Cali for a sales pitch… That’s where it’s going. 😉

  • Resident and teacher

    Murphy’s long term solution is to make APS less desirable so we no longer have this problem.

    • Success

      Then he’s doing a good job so far. 🙁

  • Steve O

    Your assertion that enrollment has been increasing for 20 years is incorrect. In fact, enrollment started flattening out about 2000 and then actually declined slightly: 2004-2007 were all below 2003 enrollment.
    The increase in students has been sudden and relatively unexpected over only the last four years.
    Take a look at the chart in this presentation to see the history of enrollment over the last 20 years.
    Cover the last 4-5 years with your hand and pretend it’s 2006. There is no way you would have predicted the system would have 22k students by 2011.

    • Zoning Victim

      While I’m sure it’s a lot more difficult to predict enrollment than most people would think, there is another five year period in that chart that jumped by roughly the same number of students; so it wasn’t completely out of the question that it could happen. Additionally, looking at past enrollment figures can’t tell you anything about what your upcoming enrollment it going to look like; you have to look at other metrics, like the number of families with children buying homes in the area, the number of couples with one to four year olds living in the county, the number of new housing units that will be coming into the county, and the number of couples in prime child-bearing years who already live in the county. That along with some other statistical and demographical information should allow an expert to judge their capacity needs to some reasonable over/under. I certainly wouldn’t expect anybody to be happy with the fact that we just finished building several schools and now have a capacity crisis.

      • Josh S

        That it could happen? That’s your analysis?

        Looking at past enrollment can’t tell you anything? Yikes. Yes, it’s possible that next year there will be 100 kids enrolled. Or 50,000. We just can’t know. Right.

        Of course those other pieces of information are useful. But I think past enrollment is where you start. If you’ve got 10,000 kids this year, it’s a damn safe bet that next year you’ll have approximately 10,000.

        Also, please name the schools that were “just built.” Several schools have recently been expanded or renovated, but have we built any new schools?

        We have an overcrowding issue. It needs to be addressed. Assigning blame for that issue seems to be fairly unproductive and a waste of time. The only reason you’d need to do that is if it were unlawful or unreasonable incompetent behavior that led to the overcrowding. I don’t think there is any reason to think it was either one of those things.

        • Im here

          where exactly do you suggest we build those new schools? There’s no room.

          • drax

            There’s still room.

        • westoverhood

          Nottingham Elementary and Washington Lee HS were just completely rebuilt from the ground up and are overcrowded.

        • Zoning Victim

          You’re picking nits; those schools were completely replaced.

          You think enrollment prediction is so obvious after looking at that chart and our over crowding problem and you have the audacity to slam my analysis? The post I was responding to makes it sound like nobody in their right mind could have predicted the uptick in enrollments despite the fact that it’s happened before; that makes no sense.

          As pointed out, Washington-Lee was just completely rebuilt and is already overcrowded. That constitutes unreasonable incompetence in my book.

          • Lou

            Nottingham was rebuilt a while ago. I bet it’s been almost ten years since my old school was torn down.

          • Whitney Wilson

            Nottingham was re-opened in September 2006 (see http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/99/CIP_Final_Document_-_website.pdf, at p. 56). My understanding is that it has been at or over capacity since the day it re-opened.

          • Lou

            Wow, seemed longer ago. It probably took two years to build, so it was torn down around 2004. That’s 8 years ago, almost 10 🙂

          • southarlington

            You would think they would build in more capacity at these new school if they were overcrowded to begin with ……or is that too hard to do….

    • Im here

      But the question needs to be asked. Why is APS building High Schools that are already slated to be over capacity. Yorktown is in the midst of renovations and already over capacity. Wakefield construction has just started and they are already looking for a place for temporary classrooms when the school is finished with construction. There is now adaptation for projected numbers, let alone currently enrolled students.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Walking around any county park in 2006, it would be obvious that in 5 years there would be a monster kindergarten class on the way in 2011.

  • Whaddup, brah?

    Outsource – develop the criteria needed for the school to make a decision, and let private eyes or bored housewives get paid a bounty for every pelt they find. Dog’s on the hunt.

    • South Awwwlington

      Loves this idea.

    • bringmetheyuppies

      Hey I was gonna say that. I would do it for free. I don’t need the money and hate when people rip off my tax dollars. Murphy should just put out the call and I’ll bet a bunch of people would do it for next to nothing.

  • TJ

    Would they also be responsible for tracking down the students living in Wakefield district attending W-L or Yorktown?

    • dk

      Um, at least at W-L, many of the Wakefield students could be legitimately enrolled in the I-B program.

      • In fact

        I know many who have worked their butts off to get into the IB program to avoid Wakefield. If they work for it to be in the advanced classes and if they won’t offer the program at the other school, this is totally fair in my view. Sorry.

        • dk

          No need to apologize, I totally agree with you. The county opens enrollment in the IB program to all students county-wide.

    • bringmetheyuppies

      Now that’s just snobbery. The southern folks pay taxes just like the northern folks. And as long as they are Arlington residents bona fide, no penalty. The schools on the south side stink compared to the north.

  • Bandersnatch

    Talk about a job that I wouldn’t want. Hunting down little kids who’s parents will do anything for the best education possible. That’ll make you feel good at the end of the day… On the plus side they could drive a APS Hybrid Prius with little crossed out backpacks keeping score on the front fender.

    Subjectively, I “get” why APS needs to do this but objectively, I’m horrified that there is that much of a quality disparity in the public schools.

    • Lou

      I am horrified that parents set such a terrible example for their children by trying the cheat the system. Imagine the stress on some poor kid who finds out they have to suddenly switch schools mid-year because their parents are liars.

      • Bandersnatch

        Yikes Lou, if ever a system needed cheating, one that offers vast disparity in public education based on geographic boundary (particularly in the same state) would be it.

        I would MUCH rather have my kids know that I did everything in my power (short of winning the lottery) to give me them best possible education than sending them to what is (apparently) an inferior school because “that’s the system.”

        The right answer is to become involved in area civics and move the needle in the right direction for your area schools. However, that doesn’t do a whole lot of good when your kid is 5 in Alexandria and you are looking at your options and the endless road map for improvement. Your other choice is to move which isn’t that great an option given the property values and illiquid real-estate market in the less desirable areas.

        My god, I sound like a Republican (except for the whole educational equality bit), but take your complacency and teach it to your own kids.

        • Josh S

          There is a line there somwhere, however. If there is an issue about your child’s physical safety at the school they are assigned to, then perhaps I could see gaming the system.

          However, if the desire to go to school X here versus school Y is simply the sort of yuppie parents’ concern about how that school will look on college applications, then I don’t have much sympathy.

        • Zoning Victim

          So teach your kids that fraud is okay as long as you perceive some kind of injustice?

          • Josh S

            No – you’re probably right. It’s best to simply keep your head down, stay in line, and do what you’re told.

          • John K.

            Ooh, option reduction. Either lie or send your children to a crappy school. No other choices allowed. No private school, no getting involved and advocating for your child at your crappy school, none of that.

            Lying to get one’s children into a different school is undignified. Just because it may be common (it is, actually, across the DC/PG line – don’t know about Arlington), doesn’t make it right. It sets a lifetime of bad examples. Rationalizing it doesn’t remove the stink.

          • Pretty sad

            When DC schools (which suck, point blank) are a “better option” the point someone would sneak their kid into the system because PG schools at the border there are SO bad. Sad…

          • Bandersnatch

            Putting aside the commuters, state-line crossers and name brand seekers (Really? people send their kids to APS for the brand on a college app?) The issue is that it IS an injustice, and yes I will teach my kids that addressing injustice supersedes the reach of law. (Now I’m a flipping libertarian, what a weird morning)

            We all pay taxes to the commonwealth, therefore the commonwealth should be providing excellent funding across jurisdictions. They clearly are not, so as a taxpayer I should be able to utilize the most efficient use of my taxes. Your “fraud” is me expressing my right to access high quality education for my children. If the state fails in providing equivalent opportunity, they lose their (moral) prerogative. It’d be my risk to take legally, but one I would definitely take if I were confronted with an extreme situation and a lack of mobility.

            Tell the truth, you’d really let your kids stew in a bad school if there was a way to circumvent the system and give them a (significantly) better chance at success?

            As a APS taxpayer it irritates the hell out of me that we have to subsidize the refugees from poor performing neighboring districts; as a citizen of VA it makes me full-on angry. Neither changes the subjective ethical choice that a parent would face making this decision…

          • Lou

            The Commonwealth’s contribution to the local school budget is something like 10% in Arlington. So you need to look somewhere other than the state before you start trying to explain the qualitative disparity in school systems.

            Or maybe you’re just trolling.

          • Bandersnatch

            Not trolling a bit- the 10% contribution is ridiculous and localized school funding is a huge problem in many states. Spreading funding across the state would result in poor education for everyone, so as a resident of a well funded system it would be against my self interest. Yet the state would be better off as a whole if funding was *increased* and pooled.

            Walling off the best schools for the people who live in expensive and tax-heavy zip codes is not the way to raise the bar overall.

            There. Now I’m a liberal again.

          • bringmetheyuppies

            You want your kids in the best schools? You pay for the best house. If that means going to a second job ( heaven forbid), cutting out nights out, or buying the smallest house in the best zip code then so be it. Buying a house in a bad location is your choice. Work the system to the best of your ability but ultimately showing your kids outright fraud is wrong. You will get busted eventually and then have to explain to your kids you are a screw up. Not to mention the other kids in their class will know and treat them poorly.

          • Gwen

            I agree. Plenty of people choose their housing based on school district. Many people make some difficult sacrifices in order to make sure that their kids get an education in a particular district. I know people here who rent apartments in order to stay in Arlington, even though they could have a whole house further out, because they want their kids to stay in these schools. It’s not fair to those of us who do make that sacrifice when people game the system.

    • Josh S

      +100 on the Prius with the crossed out backpacks. That sh*t’s hilarious.

    • dk

      Agree, it is very sad.

      OTOH, sometimes parents do this not because of school quality but because of childcare issues. E.g., if you have a long commute to your job in Arlington, you may have to leave your house before 7 am (before your child’s school opens), and/or you may have difficulty arriving back there by 6 pm each day (when extended day closes). If you can bring your child with you to Arlington and drop him/her at school here, then you eliminate this problem AND you get to spend more time with your kid. It doesn’t make it right, but I understand why someone might take this calculated risk.

      I also know a couple kids with divorced parents who have shared custody, with the kids enrolled in Arlington schools (where one of the parents lives). On the days when the kids are with their non-Arlington parent, that parent drives his/her DC- or MD-plated car to Arlington to drop the kid off at school. Perfectly legit, and I would bet not uncommon.

  • Im here

    Here’s a thought. Require parents to provide a utility bill, as proof of residency, to enroll their kids. Every other county does it. All Arlington requires is a parental signature stating that you live in the county, no proof necessary.

    • drax

      I believe they do that here too. It’s just that people fake things. They use a relative’s bill, or fake one, or keep coming to county schools after moving elsewhere.

    • SoArl

      That’s not true. I am about to register my kid for kindergarden here and the paperwork asks for proof of residency – such as a lease or mortgage. Where are you getting your info?

      • drax

        For the record:


        Documentation Needed to Register Your Child

        Proof that the parent or legal guardian of the student lives in Arlington County:
        a copy of a current lease signed by lessor and lessee or tenant and landlord to show that the parent/guardian resides in Arlington County; or
        a copy of a mortgage agreement showing that the parent/guardian owns a home and resides in Arlington County;
        or a sworn affidavit from the owner or lessee of the residence to show that a family and student reside with them in Arlington County…

      • Gwen

        Yup, you bring all that paperwork in the first time you register, but it is just that one time. It said on the thing I signed that they would verify it every few months, but they never did. So even if you bring in valid paperwork that first year, who knows where you are really living after that.

    • GC2

      I rent a condo form the owner, the bills are included in my rent price every month, and are not in my name. Only thing I have in my name is the lease and cell phone bill. Could my son be removed from Swanson school since I don’t have H20/E=MC2 in my own name.

      • myopin

        The policy says you just need to provided a current lease. If a school feels that for X reason they need additional documentation they may request a bill.

  • myopin

    I work for a small school in Arlington and i know that we have many students that do not live in Arlington. We ask for a lease or a deed and they bring it in, but they are bogus.

    We have asked our SRO to do some home visits and have been able to prove that some student do not live at the Arlington address they claimed to live at, the student has then been removed. The problem we have is that our SRO has 5 other schools assigned to him and that because we are a program our principal is more concern about how many students we currently have regardless of where they live.

    My coworker does not live in Arlington yet all 3 of her kids attend Arlington schools. What she has done is use her mothers address and stay there a few nights a week, she has provided her children school with the require proof of residency paperwork yet i know for a fact that she lives in Woodbridge i have spoken up about this yet nothing has been done they just look the other way.

    Hire someone to verify but be consistent, if you remove one person remove them all don’t look the other way depending on who they are or who they know in the school system.

    Like i said we are a small school/program and it’s an issue for us , so i know the number of non-Arlington students in the bigger schools must also be outrageous.

    • dk

      I don’t know the specifics of your coworkers situation of course, but I do know that non-resident teachers in Arlington county can apply to have their children attend designated Arlington schools.

      • myopin

        true, but i’ve looked into that and it’s not her case.

    • Arlington, Northside

      I have zero problem with an APS employee’s kids attending the school in which they work or that school’s triangle, but they should have a minimum co-pay.

  • Car-Free-Diet

    The public education system in this country is broken and this is only a symptom of it. Typical for snobbish Arlingtonians to get their backs up because of the possibility that a few non-residents are attending “your” public schools. Evita cries for you Arlington!

    No one on this thread, which is dominated by big government liberals dedicated to the usual interest groups such as teachers unions, have the capacity to even raise the idea of school choice – giving parents the power to decide where to send their kids to choose – would do more to improve educational quality then increases in the taxes spent on the current rigid, archaic public education system.

    Competition improves prices and services everywhere it exists, which is why government employees and unions worktirelessly to stamp it out.


Subscribe to our mailing list