“You might be interested in this six-part series showing that a huge portion of DC schools students actually live in Maryland”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Brian Mosley

“Dear PoPville,

You might be interested in this six-part series showing that a huge portion of DC schools students actually live in Maryland, and the DC government has turned a blind eye, in part because many of the perpetrators work for the city. I would be curious to hear your readers’ observations in the schools in their neighborhood.”

The DCNF spent a month observing pick up/drop off times, tallying license plates of hundreds of cars at multiple schools convenient to Maryland residents. At one school, of 212 cars, 79 had Maryland tags. The result was much the same across the board. The DCNF estimates that of the nearly 1,000 observed plates, as many as 40 percent had Maryland plates.

175 Comment

  • Wait, is the main evidence here that drivers with MD tags are dropping off/picking kids up? I lived in DC for three years before officially switching over my license/tags. If you’re not planning on parking on the street, there’s not a huge motivator. Not to mention nanny’s/aunt’s/uncle’s/whoever else could be driving.
    Also, aren’t some of the surrounding MD public schools some of the best in the country?

    • Accountering

      Sure, there are likely examples where this is true, but they went a bit further and followed some people to their houses in the suburbs.
      DC should be working RIDICULOUSLY hard to root this out. We spend a pile of cash on our schools, and if you don’t live here, you shouldn’t be getting a free education here.

      • But how did they know that the kid was being taken back to his or her house? If the nanny/aunt/uncle/whomever is picking the kid up isn’t it possible that they could be going to their house and not the kids house?

        • Accountering

          Perhaps read the article… They followed the mom home with the kid, to the dads house, and then saw the mom and kid come out the next morning at 8:00am.

          • Maybe they were just having an adult sleepover? Old habits die hard.

          • Am I the only one who finds this a tad creepy?

          • I agree that it’s a bit creepy, but the series is investigative in nature. How else can you be as close to certain about the claims they are making? This isn’t the court of law, where you can subpoena records. I think the series also goes to show that lengths DCPS would need to go to ferret out this fraud. It’s entrenched, it’s hard to definitely prove, but its also definitely a huge cost for District taxpayers.

    • It depends on which part of Maryland you’re talking about. Some of them are great and some of them are pretty bad.

    • Daily Caller is not exactly a crack team of reporters, but this is absolutely right. The Post had a story about it a while back too. It’s such a disgrace.

    • justinbc

      It’s absolutely possible that in some instances that is the case. However, if we’re going to acknowledge that, then we also have to acknowledge that in many cases it’s also not a legitimate reason. The point is not that 100% of the time the license plate is an identifier of a problem, but rather there are clearly times where it’s an indicator that the school system is choosing to ignore and do nothing about.

    • They also have interviews with one woman who admits to living in MD, and apparently followed some people home to MD and watched them leave the next morning. As justinbc said, the point isn’t that having an MD license plate should get you kicked out automatically, the point is that we don’t know how many of the license plates are associated with fraud because DCPS/OSSE doesn’t care to investigate or enforce the rules.

  • That certainly doesn’t sound good. I would be interested in what a real news organization could find out about this.

  • We really should just tear down the bridges to eastern MD.

    • …you mean the bridges across the Chesapeake Bay? Wouldn’t solve problems related to Marylanders just east of the District, who crossover a massive contiguous land border.

      • :sigh: The joke here is that a user named Republican Mayoral Candidate is suggesting tearing down the bridges across the Anacostia River, because of either (a) not caring about that part of the District and wanting to cede it back to MD, or (b) total ignorance.

  • Accountering

    As an aside – I got report cards for a kid for over two years at my house in Petworth for Truesdell. I called and spoke with the principal, and she said she would get to the bottom of it. The report cards continue to come… Are people just putting an address on a form and then dropping their kid off?

    • This happens to me too. I get tons of mail for a kid in DCPS, health insurance stuff for DC Health Link and social security documents. This has gone on for YEARS. So I’m kind of convinced there’s some level of fraud going on here at least with the people to (possibly) used to live in our house.

      • You can call (202) 719-6500 to report it to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. They will investigate–at the very least, they may be able to clear up a typo that is probably annoying the family if they do live somewhere else with a similar address to yours!

        • They can’t be that annoyed if it’s a constant problem. They’d probably get that fixed if they wanted their kids report card and such I’d think.

        • Thanks! I will call next time we get some mail. I do call about the health insurance stuff since that seems really important but so far it hasn’t changed anything.
          We live on a street where it would be very hard to have a “similar address” (i.e. it’s not a numbered street and has no corresponding street in a different quadrant) and we get mail for multiple people with the same last name from different sources so I sincerely think it’s some kind of fraud.

    • Wait. So do the parents never receive the report cards? Or do they just tell the teacher it got lost in the mail so they give them a copy? Crazy.

  • A couple of years ago I had 3 neighbors with 9 grandkids who lived in MD and went to DC public/charter schools. Counting plates might not be scientific, but it is a start. Most of these kids are dropped off at their grandparents and walk to school.

  • DCPS Enrollment Application


    Residency Verification on p. 6

    A DC DL and a pepco bill/lease agreement are deemed sufficient proof. Pretty easy to sham those if one is inclined to

  • my co-worker has openly said she sends her kid to a DC school (apparently a good one) because it’s a good school and she wants him to get a good education. she said it is as simple as that. she also said this school is free, so……::shrug::

    I asked if MD hasn’t any good schools and she replied “Not like this one…”

    • Free for her. Not for D.C. taxpayers.

    • Same here. My coworker brags about using an old address to send her four children to a DC school and how she got them all in the same school. I believe it’s a charter where the first one got in through lottery and the others got because of some sibling preference.

  • I would think the reverse would be more likely with DC residents attending schools in Maryland.

    • No. DC charters are now better than many MD public schools, including MoCo, and with smaller classes. Plus, DC has FREE pre-K for two years and free/heavily subsidized before and after care. With two kids, that can easily be a $40K+ post-tax annual savings for a family. Tons of incentives to get your kid into DCPS/charters.

      • some DC charters are good, but very few compare with the stronger Montgomery Country public schools. Maybe that better fits PG schools. Plenty of DC charter schools don’t even compare favorably to the better DCPS schools.

  • This story has a woman admitting that she lives in MD:

    This one says DC’s residency fraud investigator kicked out only a single family for cheating last year:

    This one has a woman claiming she is divorced and lives in DC while the dad lives in MD, but video showed that she did, in fact, live at the house in MD

    • As much as I do think this could use some investigation/stricter standards, I’m hard-pressed to be *too* upset about the first story. She is a DC taxpayer. Maybe she spends less money (so fewer jobs and less sales tax) inside the city than people who physically reside here, but there are plenty of people who physically reside in DC and do most of their shopping in the suburbs. And, yeah, that probably has something to do with why she hasn’t pulled the trigger to get married in, it sounds like, 8+ years (fiancee is probably an MD resident), which, given their jobs (assumed income level) probably hurts them on their federal filings. That one particular case is a minor affront in my opinion.
      But if people are paying income taxes to another jurisdiction, then, sure, that should be stopped. If they’re outright lying about having a residence in the District while using services reserved for District residents, absolutely drop the hammer. Question is, how do we do that? Is there some way to check if the parent is filing state income taxes in another jurisdiction? Seems simple, but we all know jurisdictions don’t communicate/cooperate that well. We could probably run parents through DC’s tax rolls, but what about people who are unemployed? Lots of questions about the costs of stopping the fraud, which, as we’ve often seen, can exceed the savings from stopping the fraud. Not saying that’s the case here, but we need to have a reasonable estimate of both the *actual* scope of the problem (methodology beyond following a few people for a few days and interviewing one) and the costs of potential solutions before diving head first into “enforcement” mode.

  • I really wish actual methodology had been applied here. Looking at the license plates of cars tells no one anything. This is nothing but fearmongering from a shady publication (I find it distressing that these “reporters” followed people home, but I also wonder: how did they know it was “home?”).

    I lived in an apartment complex in NE for a few years, and the number of residents with out-of-state tags was mind-boggling.

    • justinbc

      You bash them for being a “shady publication”, and yet you diminish their efforts to do actual journalism by following potential stories beyond the easy label of “maryland plate yup that’s a violator”. So you want them to do surface level journalism with no fact checking, and that would somehow increase their integrity? Wtf?

    • Um, when 90 percent of the cars dropping off kids are bearing Maryland plates, as happens at the schools along P Street NW (ask the ANC and civic association for docs), then it might be fair to imagine that “something” is going on. It’s pretty clear the parents (or “nannies, aunts, siblings”) proceed on to their jobs downtown. Very convenient, no?

  • I know my mother, who lives in TP, picks up our son on the regular from his DC school, and she takes him back to MD. I imagine this is pretty commonplace for folks considering the cost of after care, nannies, and babysitters.

  • This comes as no surprise. I’ve noticed for years that there are a high volume of cars with MD plates dropping off at the KIPP school on my block in Shaw. My neighbor’s granddaughter (for whom she is the parental guardian) is sitting in a waitlist to attend this school – and it appears every morning there are several dozen kids coming in from MD. I’ve even overheard parents walking their kids to the metro talking about delays getting back to MD. I’ve spoken with the school and the short answer is that it requires too much manpower to track each student’s actual address.

  • I believe parents are required to annually certify DC residency. This is done by providing one or two acceptable documents and then signing a form. Enrollment and re-enrollment is in-person and at each individual school, so if Maryland residents are gaming the system, they are possibly doing it with the complicity of a school’s front office.

  • The issue is that DCPS and OSSE residency requirements are extremely lax and seem uninterested in lifting a finger to follow up. And furthermore, the schools have every incentive to turn a blind eye in order to keep up head count and funding levels. Then add the private profits incentives of charter schools and this thing really, really snowballs.
    Frankly, they should give the DC DMV the powers to approve residency. They are total hard-asses. Or only allow income tax forms to count for proving residency. Pay DC taxes? You can enroll your kid.

    • Not everyone pays or even files income taxes.

      • Why are individuals not filing taxes? I’m pretty sure you even need to file taxes when reporting assistance income, such as disability or unemployment. That doesn’t mean you need to “pay,” but at the very least you’ve proven to be a District resident for tax purposes.

        • no, you don’t have to file tax returns for SSI, TANF, or SNAP. SSA sends 1099s for SSDI and Social Security retirement benefits, but if that’s your only income you are not required to file.

        • You do not need to file taxes if government assistance is our main source of support. Nor do you need to file if you live on child support or most student aid. There are many circumstances under which you do not need to file.

        • Not sure what you mean exactly, but a vast majority of “assistance income” is tax exempt. Things like TANF, section 8 vouchers, or social security income is tax-exempt and do not count towards the thresholds for having a filing requirement.

          • Well, either you file taxes, or there is a record of you receiving assistance from DC that shows you actually live here, no?

          • DCPS accepts both proof of DC tax withholding and assistance documentation (e.g. TANF) as proof eligibility. Frankly, I think they should only require those as they are generated by the government rather than easily faked 3rd parties.

  • I taught middle school this year in a DC public charter school and it was known by us (and admin) that some of our students lived in Maryland. The attitude of the school seemed to be if they have filed the paperwork that proves residency, we will just go with it. So that’s where the breakdown happens. How the parents verify they are in DC when they aren’t is beyond me. What can you do at the school level if they have documentation?

    • In other places where I have lived, that was always the problem. The schools, the people right at the ground level, knew exactly what was going on and they shrugged their shoulders. When the county changed the rules and said schools were individually responsible for ensuring kids met residency requirements and that the *school* would have their funding reduced by something like 5x the annual spending per student for a year for each student the county auditors found out was attending illegally, suddenly the schools turned everyone in and enrollment county-wide dropped some 12-15%. We should do the same.

    • Putting a utility bill in anyone’s name is very easy. Even if they made it just a lease, you could make up one just as easily.

    • I don’t see teachers and principals turning in their students, even when they have a strong hunch or know for sure that a kid lives in MD. There needs to be a department in DC government that is charged with investigating and enforcing the fraud. (I admit I don’t know enough about DC government to know if there already is one and it’s just not doing the job, or, which department’s jurisdiction this should fall under.)

  • The residency requirements and paperwork seems pretty difficult to complete, and we live in DC. Neither my wife nor I have earned income in DC (and don’t complete a DC tax return) so it’s a little harder for us than most others. Nonetheless, I’m just surprised that it’s so easy as to allow all these folks from MD to fraudulently complete it.

    • Um, why are you not reporting your income if you live in DC? DC doesn’t care where you earned your income. If you live here for more than 30 days, you need to pay DC taxes (so long as you’re not here on a diplomatic visa).

      • Yes, that was my question too. My wife and I lived in DC, but worked/earned income in Virginia. However, we definitely filed and paid DC taxes, not Virginia. The only way I could think that you don’t pay DC taxes, but still live there is if you’re military…

        • Or foreigner on a diplomatic visa.
          I’m not sure if U.S. State Dept diplomats get to use their “home state” while in DC for desk duty or language training. Lots of U.S. diplomats have Texas or Florida as their “home” state while overseas.

          • Not sure how you know the info in your last sentence, but from my experience, most foreign service officers live in VA and acknowledge that as their residence. I think it only counts for military (although lets be clear — paying taxes and changing your plates/license/voter registration/etc. are not all hand-in-hand, and I don’t think these things always get changed since diplomats are here so infrequently and often don’t have a permanent residence here).

          • No, although military are allow to do so we most definitely do not get do that. Live in DC, pay taxes in DC, just like everyone else.

          • My friend is on their first posting after A100 and he/she used their mom’s TX address as their residence. So that person does not owe DC, MD, or VA state taxes. I have no idea how long they can keep doing that once that person comes back to DC for their next language training. It sounds like they will be forced to claim DC residence once they return. Another friend had Florida residence during their first posting.

        • I’m active duty, and spouses income is exempt from DC tax if s/he is accompanying the military member on orders.

      • 100% DC does care where you earn your income. Most from MD/VA/DC residents don’t realize this, but the baseline rule is that you pay taxes where your income was earned regardless of where you live. However, in many cases there are agreements between states to require workers to pay taxes where they live instead of where the income was earned. So, for example, MD and VA have a reciprocity agreement to residents of the other state who work in their state to to pay taxes to their resident state

        For DC, it’s a little different. MD, VA, and PA require residents of DC who work in those states to pay DC income taxes on income earned in those states. The federal government has imposed one-way reciprocity on DC so that residents of any state who earn income in DC can must pay state taxes where they live. It’s one of the reasons Max Scherzer publicly stated convinced him to come to the Nats

        • Gotcha. Any idea what happens when you reside overseas when working for a DC-based company or the US government?

          • “Foreign Service employees
            residing in the metropolitan
            Washington, D.C., area are
            generally required to pay
            income tax to the District of
            Columbia, Maryland or Virginia,
            in addition to paying tax
            to the state of their domicile.” (p73)
            This might be informative but is long winded and confusing and I don’t really understand it since, well, I don’t work overseas. http://www.afsa.org/sites/default/files/2015afsaTaxGuide.pdf

    • You’ll note that the enrollment form residency checkboxes have a variety of residency/accommodation categories you could “drive a truck through”
      – hotel/motel
      – sheltered
      – unsheltered
      – doubled up

      • HaileUnlikely

        These are necessary. Sadly, there really truly are kids in the DCPS system legitimately living on the street, in homeless shelters, and/or in motels. I know more than one. No sh!t. Seriously.

      • Yeah, and I was “doubled up” and still had to prove residency through other means. Sorry, are we only allowed to live in DC and be “real residents” if we own our own homes and meet your personal standard of what a “real resident” is?

    • Yeah. This doesn’t make sense. Either you haven’t officially changed your residence to DC or you’ve been failing to file D-40s for however long since you did.

      • Or they just don’t have earned income. Students, living off passive income elsewhere, disabled, many possibilities.

  • I can testify that I’ve seen a lot of Maryland plates in front Stuart-Hobson Middle School. One of the schools cited in one of the stories is nearby Ludlow Taylor.

    The series is loaded with racist dogwhistles but nonetheless a lot of their investigative techniques harken back to old-timey tabloids like Chicago Sun-Times in its heyday, or the Boston Herald. I’m still squeamish about their hedging adjectives like almost, about, nearly, approximately. And they balance with the rigorous prosecution in 2015 of the two DC cops who were cited in court for falsifying their address to get their kids in a DC school when they lived in Maryland.

    However, it does call attention to a serious issue. I don’t have kids, but if I were one of the 12,000 DC parents on waiting lists for charter schools and free preschool, I’d be pretty angry. In addition, as a DC taxpayer, I want OSSE to pursue this to the full extent of the law. That’s my money!

    • Yes I agree – lots of “subtle hints” about who is taking these school spots away from the rich capitol hill families. The fraud is a real problem, but I could do without the bias.

      • What is biased about pointing out that people are committing fraud?

      • Agreed.
        And they’ve squeezed in some extraneous details just to take an extra swipe at government: “Stanley, according to his Facebook profile, works for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs the troubled D.C. metro system. That system is heavily subsidized by local and federal governments.”
        I’m no fan of WMATA, but this seems superfluous. The problem is the residency fraud for school enrollment purposes, not the parents’ jobs.

  • Yes there is major fraud going on here. Lots of MD families dropping off kids on their way to work in downtown DC.

    Both DCPS and charters are funded on per-student allocations. Unless they’re at capacity or in high demand (many schools aren’t) there is a serious disincentive to pursue residency issues.

  • I had Maryland plates for the first two years I lived in DC, and trust me, I got a lot of side eye for it. I was living in DC, paying DC taxes, and met all the residency requirements (I had to show pay stubs every year to re-register the kids). I live in MD now, and there’s a fairly good chance I will keep my DC plates for a while. But I am now a MD resident paying state and county taxes and meet the residency requirements for the kids to go to school here. I never get bad for not switching my plates And I would have happily provided proof of residency at any stage had the school or DCPS asked, but I would not have responded to any parent or reporter because it really is none of their business.
    There are many reasons why someone might want to game the system, and it really is up to the school systems to police. I know that when I lived in Charles County, they very much actively investigated and pursued kids going to school either in the district they didn’t belong by right, or if they lived out of county all together. People who were caught were given the option to pay tuition and remain or leave. Most of this (if not all) was the work of pupil personel workers.
    I think on way around the issue in DC would be to do something similar. However, I don’t think there is much desire by administrators to police this. Im not even sure if there is any one really employed in this capacity through DCPS at individual schools.
    Having said all that, I did not care for the tone of this article, I think that following families around day and night and then questioning them is tantamount to harassment, and really not the right thing at all.

    • Excuse me, it absolutely it our business if you are defrauding the state education system. Unbelievable..

      • No, it’s really not. I (and many others) lived, worked, paid taxes, etc in DC. I was a Real DC Resident. There are many, many people who do not change car registration for whatever reason, and even more who never change their license. But it is definitely not up to you or anyone else to decide who belongs in what school. You personally are not the DCPS residency police. What’s next? You don’t belong in this school because this is a white neighborhood and you are a minority? Oh wait, that’s it because the article really does go there.
        If you have a problem with what’s going on in your kids school, push the administration to act.

        • +1. Lots of people don’t change their plates when they have private parking, especially (see almost everyone who has used the parking lots at both of the apartment complexes I’ve lived at in DC).

          • …but why? I was happy to change by Va plates to DC b/c the taxes were actually cheaper. Sure, my insurance went up, but with the taxes on the car decreasing it was basically the same as what I paid in Va. Not to mention I didn’t want to risk getting into an accident and then my insurance company asking a bunch of questions about why I live in DC, but my car has a Va license plate. I had private parking too, but there were times I parked on the street.

          • For me it was honestly a mix of laziness and not wanting the hassle. I had off street parking and a commuter policy so any accident in DC would have been no big deal. I had also just registered my car and had two years left. There was also a point where I didn’t even drive my car for weeks on end and considered giving it up all together. When I finally did change, I wished I had done it sooner; my insurance went down and it wasn’t nearly the hassle I expected. I would imagine for others it’s the same.

          • I don’t know — I think there’s probably lots of reasons. People who just moved to the city from the suburbs and aren’t sure if they’ll stay long term or are in-and-out of town (like foreign service officers noted above) who may not want to change their plates every time they come back and move somewhere else. Students who don’t intend to stay for more than a year or two. Or people who are just lazy.

          • yeah, well, that’s also breaking the rules! REad your driver’s license agreement (you signed it) and you’ll see that you are required to change your DL within 30 days of moving.

          • I know people who have lived in Virginia for five years who literally just got a Virginia driver’s license, still haven’t bothered to register their car there, because apparently Virginia requires you to pay property tax on a vehicle. I know people who live in DC and have MD tags still.

            Am I necessarily a fan of it? No. But I sure has heck wouldn’t be following kids home from school and using license plates as the main determinant of residency, especially in such a transient area.

        • I am confused.

          Anonamom, do you really think it is right for people to lie about a place of residency just so they can get their kid into a school in DC? i understand if people don’t change their license plates (but live in DC) BUt if you do not live in DC, is that okay?

          lying and taking advantage seems to be alright with you.

          and why the hell is this about black or white? why do people automatically go there in these kinds of discussions? goodness

          • I think she was saying that she merely didn’t change her plates – not that she kept her kids enrolled in the DC schools after she lived in MD. That was my interpretation anyway.

            I think people don’t change their plates mainly out of laziness and the fact the the DMV is so difficult to deal with, but I don’t have a car so that’s just my guess.

          • Shayna – Re-read. That’s not what she was saying at all. Anonomom lived in DC, paid DC taxes, but just never changed her plates since she had private parking and didn’t drive often.

          • Anonamom is referring to the Daily Caller series of articles, which included paragraphs like these:
            “The school is almost entirely black and government statistics indicate that few of the students live in the neighborhood. Poor test scores have left neighborhood parents feeling they can’t use their own school, and must pay for private education or enroll their children in a more distant public school.
            “Parents of DCPS students are typically glad to have their kids mix with those from varied backgrounds, but there is one criteria that they say should be obvious: D.C.’s school system is for people who live in DC.
            “ ‘It really burns me how easy DC makes it for families that live outside of the city to use up resources and then enjoy their less expensive properties and ride in their fancy SUVs,’ another parent complained online.”

        • Yeah, come-on! It’s only insurance fraud, fake car registration, and freeloading on our streets. What’s the matter with that?

        • Strictly speaking if you were residing in DC you were legally required to change your license and registration within thirty days.
          But maybe you’re saying “my insurance was so much cheaper in MD!!” In that case you’re not just guilty of failure to update your registration, but also insurance fraud.

          • Technically, but who can really enforce that? (Note: This does not apply to me at all. I do not drive. Go me! Why am I commenting on any of these things? Heh….)

          • Following pesky laws appears to be a real obstacle for Anonamom. Don’t feel like obeying the laws, no problem!

          • (Real) DC Resident – I am sure you have broken laws you didn’t even know existed. Plus hundreds (thousands) of other people who have lived in DC over the years. I’m not defending that — but its the nature of living in a “district” that is small with many people who change which state they live/work in frequently.

          • Since your license plate lists the state you live in, I don’t think you need to be a genius or legal expert to know that when you move you are likely supposed to change it. As others have mentioned, it also affects your insurance premiums. When I moved from Virginia to DC, I did just that. Anyhow, that actually IS one law that DC does enforce somewhat through the issuance of ROSA tickets.

            I won’t even dare ask people what kinds of voter fraud they are committing.

          • Here we go again with being right vs. being realistic. Whether someone who is not you breaks a law or not really is not any of your business. It will not come back to bite YOU in the ass. And if you have a problem with enforcement take it up with your elected officials. I don’t understand people who get up in arms about others’ behavior, but then won’t take any action to bring it to the attention of the actual enforcer — except that they’re also lazy, in their own way.

          • Again. Let me write this out in crayon for you. If people are stealing education from our city, then yes it DOES affect me and anyone else paying taxes to DC and/or attempting to send their kids to school here. This is extremely basic. It is theft. Plain and simple. As I have noted elsewhere, it is fairly clear at this point that the school system and city government DO NOT CARE that this is taking place.

          • Small point. Insurance fraud is making a claim using false information. That can include place of residence, circumstances of the accident, etc. Purchasing the policy with false information is generally pretty stupid, but not illegal until you try to make the claim. Insurance companies can generally identify this kind of stuff.

            Lots of people would get their claims denied for using a personal vehicle for their business.

            First “real” job out of college was working as an insurance adjuster. Hated it. Except for denying claims to people trying to game the system. That was the fun part.

        • Well that didn’t take too long did it? Pulling the old race card out? The article made no mention of race whatsoever, and the race of those committing the fraud is indeed totally irrelevant.

          As for your advice to push the administration to act, if you actually bothered to read the article, DCPS doesn’t appear to care whatsoever that a significant percentage of its students are stealing their education. The DCPS press secretary couldn’t even be bothered to respond at all. This widespread fraud is an open secret in DC. You wonder why DC isn’t a state? It has serious issues enforcing its own laws and regulations. Complete banana republic.

          • ‘his widespread fraud is an open secret in DC. You wonder why DC isn’t a state? It has serious issues enforcing its own laws and regulations.’

            ^ god, DC is a joke sometimes and this is one of those times….

          • Yeah there are absolutely NO state governments that have issues with fraud, are there? All 50 states are perfect.

            And from someone who read the full article, it is full of coded language that those who are less aware of racial issues may not pick up on. But I found it to be pretty blatant. It does indeed go there.

            This is not an issue specific to DC. School residency fraud happens all over the country, because we have a messed up system for funding schools. Rich towns have fancy schools, while poor ones suffer.

          • “The article made no mention of race whatsoever, and the race of those committing the fraud is indeed totally irrelevant.”
            Come on. The most detailed case study is of a woman named Keisha Lameka Walton. (In case the reader hadn’t already assumed that she was black, her photo is included for good measure.)
            And there’s this:
            “Ludlow-Taylor is a public school, not a charter, on Capitol Hill in a mostly white neighborhood along a commuter route that runs from Prince George’s County to federal buildings downtown.
            “The school is almost entirely black and government statistics indicate that few of the students live in the neighborhood. Poor test scores have left neighborhood parents feeling they can’t use their own school, and must pay for private education or enroll their children in a more distant public school.
            “Parents of DCPS students are typically glad to have their kids mix with those from varied backgrounds, but there is one criteria that they say should be obvious: D.C.’s school system is for people who live in DC.
            “ ‘It really burns me how easy DC makes it for families that live outside of the city to use up resources and then enjoy their less expensive properties and ride in their fancy SUVs,’ another parent complained online.”

          • The above four paragraphs are basically saying the following:
            Wealthy white parents are annoyed that despite their expensive properties, their neighborhood schools are too poor in quality for them to want to send their kids to. Meanwhile, black parents are paying less to live in P.G. County, still get to send their kids to D.C. schools, and because their cost of housing is less, they’re purchasing expensive SUVs.

          • Do you seriously think black children who ACTUALLY live in DC aren’t displaced by the Marylanders illegally attending DC schools?

            And anyhow, I wasn’t aware the residency requirements are optional if you are a certain race.

          • The DCNF article is covering a real, legitimate problem (school residency fraud). However, it’s doing it with veiled racism, which makes sense given the site’s political slant.

        • I think a lot of VA and MD locals who move to DC don’t bother to change. There are so many reasons. I changed mine over right away because I needed to be able to park on the street. Many ppl use their “Family” home address, but as an adult, I cant see my important documents going to the home of my parents. I cant begin to tell you the stories Ive heard regarding unpaid speeding camera tickets because a current DC resident is still receiving mail else where. (now thats a hassle, who has time?) Many don’t want the increase in insurance costs. My insurance went up substantially. Many use “family” insurance polices where everyone must reside in the same home for coverage. If you are still financing your car, you have to change the address on your title with the loan company, if your name is not on the car note payments, I can only imagine how difficult that would be. There are so many reasons why. I actually hate it. My boyfriend has VA tags and has lived in DC for over 8 years. I never really see DC tags in my apt building’s garage. Ppl just dont do it. I don’t understand it but it is very common.

          • It’s really not as hard as many people seem to think. I’m from a suburb of Virginia and was on my family’s insurance plan for awhile. I got my own insurance plan, switched my plates to DC, converted my Va license to DC, changed the address on my car note from Va to DC. Then I switched the address on my license again once I moved to a different place in DC. Half the stuff was done online. I did have to go to the DMV twice, but I was pleasantly surprised after hearing so many horror stories. I was in and out.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I’ll stipulate that this is a valid point in the abstract, but how many of these reasons apply to people who are at the stage in life of having had their own children for 5+ years?

      • HaileUnlikely

        Even if it is your business as a taxpayer, it is not your business to get in a parent’s face about it. If you suspect that somebody is defrauding the education system and that bothers you, report it to said education system. If they will not act on your report, that there is the problem.
        On another note, I think you are stealing time from your employer right now. I don’t care if you have evidence to the contrary, Mr. (Real) DC Resident, because I think you are, so that is my business, because, well, because. Are you stealing time from your employer right now? I know you are. I know you are.

        • It is certainly your business to lobby legislators to enforce rules more strictly though. Many, many other jurisdictions around the country do this effectively.

          • HaileUnlikely

            No argument there. What I’m saying is that it is neither your business to investigate where another family lives nor your business to get in their face about it. If you suspect that another family is cheating, report it.

          • The article clearly states that reporting it or even ASKING about it to DCPS results in….crickets. I don’t advocate getting in people’s faces but seriously something has to be done and our corrupt city government isn’t doing anything. Pesky reports…going and uncovering massive fraud. CUT THAT OUT!

          • I’m with HaileUnlikely on this. Getting up in people’s faces about things is just not the appropriate way to handle it.

          • I don’t think any of the reporters on this article “got in someone’s face” unless you consider asking a question getting in someone’s face. Now the people they were asking, on the other hand, cursing and threatening, that is definitely getting in someone’s face.

          • “Excuse me, it absolutely it our business if you are defrauding the state education system.” – Doesn’t sound like a question to me.
            “Following pesky laws appears to be a real obstacle for Anonamom. Don’t feel like obeying the laws, no problem!” – Also doesn’t sound like a question to me.

          • Also, I’m going to leave this here – but I didn’t see anyone who threatened you (or cursed *at* you, specifically) at all. Including me.

          • From the article: “A dad got out of his Maryland SUV and shouted profanities and threats at TheDCNF for 20 minutes, much of it in front of his children, and demanded that a police officer — who had been called by a school administer to stop the observation — punish the reporters.”

          • “Now the people they were asking, on the other hand, cursing and threatening, that is definitely getting in someone’s face.” FridayGirl, I’m pretty sure (Real) DC Resident is referring to the article, which mentions that one Maryland-tagged parent with whom the reporters sought to speak cursed at them and threatened them.

          • Sorry, I misread. I thought he said he didn’t get in anyone’s face, which is what I thought Haile was saying….. (a series of misreadings by all of us?)

    • The article stated that OSSE has one person working on the residency verification. It appears that DCPS has hired private investigation firms in the past to look into the issue where kids had ZERO documents, but vast majority of those parents were able to eventually produce the necessary paperwork. Frankly, the residency verification required by OSSE is an extremely low bar to clear. It’s very easy to fake utility bills or use a friend’s or relative’s address.

      • Perhaps it was the school registrar at my kids’ school and not indicative of all of DCPS, but they were very strict on the documents. I once blacked out a little too much information on my pay stub and had to resubmit. There were other parents who ran into issues with utility bills being online only. So it seems that schools could do more, they just choose not too.

    • Maryland tags while living in DC: “If you park or opperate a vehicle in public space in the District of Columbia for 30 consecutive days, the vehicle must display a valid DC DMV inspection sticker and tags”

      DC tags while living in MD: “As a new resident of Maryland you must register your vehicle within 60 days of moving to Maryland.”

      Shall we talk about voting next? Where would a person with MD tags but a DC address vote? With DC tags and a MD address? Vote in one state? Heck, vote in both states for the same election?

      • Anon – As far as I know you can’t register to vote in two states, it’s impossible. Unless I’m completely missing something. So that is an incredibly far-fetched and unrealistic question.
        Second, I think the part about “30 consecutive days” could be where some people — if they are reading very literally — could say “Oh I don’t need to change my license/plates because this is just parked in my garage and I’m only driving it around once a month to go to Costco.” So perhaps that is a wording vs. interpretation problem that should be better clarified.

        • States don’t crosscheck voter registration rolls. You can definitely be registered in more than one state and vote in more than one place in the same election. That’s why I kept getting California jury summons for 5+ years after I left the state even though I was registered in NY to vote. My parents kept getting jury summons and absentee ballots in my name to their address. As long as you have an in-state address that receives mail on your behalf, you’ll be registered and able to vote in multiple states.
          Also, the DC rule about 30 days is very clear. It says if the car is in the District for more than 30 days you must register it. They don’t care if you drive it or keep it parked in a garage everyday.

          • Wow, I have literally never heard of that before, so I guess that’s my bad. Maybe I just know people who are really honest about only voting in one state? Beats me….
            And no, the law is very clear that if you “park” or “operate” a car in PUBLIC for “30 consecutive days” that you must register it. Like, that’s actually what is says. Literally. Re-read it. It seems that they literally don’t care if you keep it parked in a private garage. This might be a devil’s advocate argument – but it is *literally* what they are saying.

          • The 30 day rule is pretty clear. From the DC DMV’s perspective, if you’re operating or housing a personal car/truck in the city for 30 consecutive days and you live in the city, then you need to register it in the city (unless you’re a Congressional staffer, diplomat or other specially exempted category; Congressional may qualify for “reciprocity” and keep their out of state tags, while diplomats have their own State Department-run DMV).

            As for the rest of us, 30 days – tags and drivers’ license. The source of the real regs is somewhere in the DC Code, but DC DMV has various plain language interpretations: http://dmv.dc.gov/service/initial-registration-new-or-used-vehicle

            Residency means different things to different agencies. For taxation, you’re a DC resident if you live in the City for 181 calendar days (again, some Congessional, military and diplomats exempted). For voting, its something different. For schooling, its as long as you spend your nights in DC.

          • I am registered to vote in 2 places. I was registered in my old state, then I registered to vote when I moved here. I have not voted back in Illinois since I moved, but there’s no real way to un-register, so they still keep mailing ballots to my old house. On a related note – My mother has been dead for 6 years and continues to get called for jury duty.

          • Have you tried asking them to take you off the registration rolls?
            I didn’t realize that states don’t communicate with each other about voter registration until I moved states after college and received a jury summons from the state I had left.

          • CHGal-you sure about that? In Virginia, for example, see: http://elections.virginia.gov/registration/voter-forms/cancel-registration.html

            Call your county registrar.

          • I’m sure. But given that it’s Cook County, this may be an anomaly.

          • States sometimes communicate with each other about voter rolls, and sometimes don’t. I grew up in NJ and lived in PA with my husband before moving to DC 7 years ago. I still showed up on the voter rolls in NJ until recently, and sample ballots would show up at my parents’ house, until I finally asked them to take me off the rolls a year or two ago. Prior to that I hadn’t voted in NJ in nearly 15 years. When my husband and I moved from PA I got taken off the voter rolls and he didn’t, despite that we moved and registered to vote in DC at the same time.

    • The not changing the plates reason could very well be true for a few people, but really, are there this many people who have recently moved into DC that haven’t changed their plates, and they all have kids going to pre-school? But it is an example of why you shouldn’t harass people on the street while they are picking up or dropping off their kids.

  • My first thought was license plates are hardly dispositive of residency. I’d say easily 50% of the cars that park on the many unzoned blocks in Truxton Circle have Maryland or Virginia tags (mostly Maryland). And they are the same cars, every day, from people who I have seen living in houses in the neighborhood. Either parking enforcement ignores that neighborhood altogether and therefore no one has to comply with ROSA in Truxton Circle, or there are ways around living in DC and having your car registered in MD that I do not understand.

    It’s especially annoying when you live on an unzoned street, so DC DMV refuses to give you a zone sticker and you are stuck only using unzoned blocks and are battling for parking with people who either do not live in DC or are simply ignoring the requirement to register their cars here.

    Though it wouldn’t surprise me that MD residents are bringing their kids into DC for school. You’d think as terrible as many of the schools in DC are, the city would have a stronger interest in preserving resources for its own citizens.

    • Free daycare and Pre-K is a massive incentive, even if the education isn’t of the best quality in the region. DC is also obligated to pay for very expensive private special education, if it can’t offer a service that a student needs or meets the satisfaction of the parent.

    • Report them to the Department of Public Works. Even on unzoned blocks, they can be ticketed and ticketed until they comply with the law.

    • Surprised to hear VA tags as well. In Arlington, we are having the same issue. Many Maryland residents lying about residency to get their kids in better schools. It’s still an on-going investigation, but the county has already begun withdrawing students.

  • Yes, there is extremely high demand and not enough capacity at almost all schools for PK3 and PK4 and at most of the better schools for all of the other grades, so cracking down on fraudulant residency is important.

  • Even if not to open up spots in specific schools, this is costing DC government 30k a year per student. This is literally as if a MD resident walked up to DC’s bank account, took out 30k in cash, and walked off.
    The total number of DCPS students is 88k. The NCES estimates the population of school age students in DC is 72k. Even allowing for non school age students to be in schools, that’s insane! Let’s say 10% of DCPS students are from other states (probably an underestimate given the staggering numbers above). That means that each of the 371,361 people in the DC workforce are paying 1k a year in taxes for student who live in MD.

    • Also, quite a sizable chunk of the 72k school age students are in private school. I think we are looking at closer to 20-25% of DCPS/charter population not actually being DC residents.

      • Yeah, like I said 10% is probably a hugely low estimate. Realistically each DC taxpayer is probably paying closer to 2,000$ annually to send Maryland children to school. People should be outraged.

        • It is worth remembering that DC is not allowed to withhold income tax on those who work in DC but live in MD or VA. This is an anomoly. In most metroplexes, where you work is where your payroll tax is withdrawn, so if you work in NY and live in NJ you pay NY payroll tax, file returns in both NY and NJ but get credited back by NJ what you paid for in NY. DC’s arrangement starves the City of payroll tax revenue. The Federal government used to make up for this via an annual “lump sum” payment to DC, but that was eliminated in 1997. So both MD and VA are getting significantly more payroll tax revenue from their DC workers than they would otherwise get.

    • Where did you get that 88k number on DCPS? Their own website says there are only 48.4K students in the system’s schools. Does the DCPS website not include charter students? Are there 40K students in the charter system?

      • The 48.4K number appears only to include students in the public schools, not public charter schools.

        Data from NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) isn’t as recent, but shows ~45K students in DCPS a few years ago, and an additional ~23K in the listed charter schools (which are each listed as a separate “district” on NCES.

        You can see the NCES data by going to http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/districtsearch/ and searching for State = District of Columbia

      • DCPS reports 49k for public and about 39k for charter schools. Data is in their annual report with school by school numbers.

  • notlawd

    I volunteered to chaperone a field trip to Baltimore with my daughter’s school last month and as we were on the bus there and clearly over the MD line one of the students yelled out “look there is my house, I live there!” No one batted an eye. Clearly not a priority of DCPS.

    • Well, what would you have them do in this situation? Throw the child off the bus? Embarrass them that their parents are breaking the law? There’s no way to know that they didn’t investigate after the fact.

    • Maybe the child’s parents are paying the out of District tuition to attend a DCPS. 😉

      • HaileUnlikely

        I was seriously wondering if that is an option here (aside from the question of how many parents would actually do so if it was). Where I grew up (not in this area), this was very common. There were lots of kids who paid out-of-district fees to attend out-of-district public schools, mostly for athletic reasons (sports-obsessed parents paying out-of-district fees to send their kids to the local basketball powerhouse, etc). In a district neighboring mine, parents of kids on one school’s track team pooled their resources to pay the fees for an out-of-district kid who they wanted on their team. (I don’t know if that violated any sports rules, but anyway, there were established legal mechanisms to send your kid to an out-of-district school, for a fee, and they were used widely)

        • There are actually very few out of District students “officially” paying tuition for DCPS or charters. And even when they are transparent, DCPS/OSSE often fail to bill or collect tuition. So the whole system is basically a farce.

      • Extremely doubtful. DC has not even recovered 5% of the back tuition that are owed by families that were caught cheating and left DCPS. They are only allowed to take tuition from out-of-state students where there are no DC students on the waitlist. Unless the notlawd kid attends a very undesirable school, there should be zero students paying tuition at any of the high-in-demand public or charter schools.

  • Not surprising, and not a new issue by any means. Ironically, back in the 70s and 80s when PG had much better schools, District parents were often alleged to have enrolled their kids in PG schools because things were so bad in DC. Now it’s the reverse.

    There are a number of reasons why this occurs. First is that some of the black population that has moved from DC to PG County, or increasingly to Charles County, still consider the District “home,” even if it’s no longer their place of domicile. I’m sure some people have a sense of entitlement – a sort of “we were here first” thinking – and feel entitled to District services because it’s where they’re from, especially in the light of gentrification that has changed the face of the District. Second is that PG Country residents pay the highest tax burden in the region and get the worst services in return. Schools are abysmal, so parents seek better options outside of their communities. Finally, white transplants may not fully understand just how close-knit and connected some of the black community is. Go to any school, police, or DMV parking lot, and you’ll find that most of the District employees now live in Maryland. If you work at a school where kids are attending from MD, chances are some of those kids are going to be family, friends of family, members of your church, live in your neighborhood, etc. Nobody is going to report a kid who is your daughter’s best friends’ son, let along enforce the rules.

  • There is definitely veiled racism in this article. Without a lot of details, the article sketches the specter of the black PG County family with a fancy SUV that is scamming the system and hurting those hard working (white) families of Capitol Hill. These poor white families who pay taxes on million dollar homes and six figure incomes can’t send their kids to their neighborhood school now because it’s ruined by low test scores of these (black) non-residents, and are high on the wait list at their favored Highly Regarded Charter School because of all the fraudulent non-DC residents who scammed a place ahead of them. I’m not saying residency fraud at DC public schools isn’t a problem – but it’s portrayed in this article as an affront to people who I would consider to be quite privileged by invoking pretty simplistic racial images when something that I imagine is much more complex than is portayed is happening.

    Stalking parents with Maryland plates and seeing where they sleep and who is in the car with them isn’t investigative reporting. It’s just creepy. The article doesn’t even mention specifically how one needs to prove residency to enroll in a DCPS or charter school or how a family might get past the enrollment requirements to get in. Why didn’t the “reporter” try to talk to any teachers who are doing home visits to see if they think this is a problem? Talk more rationally to principals about the enrollment policy besides confronting one principal? To enroll my kid in a DCPS school, every year I have to show several forms of ID and a utility bill or a car registration with my name and my DC address. You can’t just have a relative who lives in DC or show that you own a home here.

  • Incredible, I hope for everyone’s sake no one other than you has to depend on your less than keen deductive reasoning for their survival. I live in DC and have a relative who lives in MD drop off my children at school and on occasion a friend who lives in Va. I was not aware that I was violating anything, I suppose next you will spend clearly all the free time you have in your hands to make sure that those with Md or Va tags are barred from a school zone. Please get a life.

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