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“Is there a place to report false residency claims?”

by Prince Of Petworth April 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm 90 Comments

schools
Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

“Dear PoPville,

I repeatedly receive (at my address via USPS) important documents for the same family. This isn’t the typical assortment of mail for people being lazy about their forwarding address. It includes drivers licenses and most recently, school lottery info for their children. (That free pre-K is pretty valuable.) Additionally, from what my neighbors tell me, no one by this name ever lived in this house. The first few times this happened I, in good faith, tried to reach out the mother who has a unique enough name that she is quite easy to find. She did not respond, and evidence suggests that she is not a current DC resident.

I would rather my tax dollars pay for the education of children who live in DC and whose parents pay taxes here. Is there a place to report false residency claims?”

  • textdoc

    “Is there a place to report false residency claims?” Yes. See:
    .
    https://osse.dc.gov/service/investigation-and-residency-fraud

    • Meeeeee

      Thanks! Sharing this website is helpful. I had emailed another address with no response. This looks promising, and I will give it a try.

    • John B.

      Or just cross out the name, write “return to sender, no such person at this address” and give it back to your mail carrier (or just drop it in the corner mailbox). This will at least notify the sender that there’s something fishy going on.

      • Fairmont

        I have had the same problem and I have been marking the mail as “return to sender no such person at this address” for the past 4 years and it hasn’t done much to stop the mail from coming.

        Thanks for this link, I will give it a try.

  • Anon

    DCPS Website has a form here: https://dcforms.dc.gov/webform/osse-residency-fraud-prevention-form

    or you can call them here: Student Residency Fraud Prevention Hotline at (202) 719-6500

    All from: https://osse.dc.gov/service/enrollment-and-residency

  • PetworthMom
  • Anon

    I mean this as a sincere question (not something snarky): what DC school is so great that someone who does not live in DC but lives close enough to DC to take their kids to school in the District would lie about residency? I am actually curious. I assume upper NW? Based on what I have heard (and no real evidence) about DC schools, this is really interesting to me.

    • AnonV2

      Compared to many Prince Georges County and some Montgomery County public schools, yes. Plus what amounts to free daycare in the PK3 and PK4 grades that is not available in MD/VA. That is primarily where the fraud is coming from.

      • Anon X

        Uh. Most DC public schools are inferior to most PGC and MC schools. The question stands. These folks are going to ANY DC school, not just the top tier. And ANY DC school is about the same or less good than anything but the bottom third of PGC and bottom 5th of MC.

        I’ve often wondered the same thing as original Anon… I think it must boil down to convenience.

        • AnonV2

          See: free PK3 and PK4. Those are better than 100% of MD/VA schools, simply because the analogue doesn’t exist. Most folks then just keep their kids in the same place for convenience. But there is a not-insiginifcant subset of fraud that happens from parents looking for better than options than their zoned MD/VA schools.

        • Anon

          No, it boils down to free pre-k. Many likely continue within DCPS since their kids made friends/etc.

          • Anon X

            Ohhhh free pre-k. Yeah, I knew it had to do with something other than the quality of schools.

        • anon

          this is entirely untrue. there are many failing DCPS locations but many of far greater quality than MC or PGC schools.
          this thinking is far behind in whats actually happening with DC schools and the surrounding counties.
          MC is declining in performance PGC has been on a low decline for even longer and DC has many pockets on the upswing. Its amazing how long school systems can ride on reputation long after the situation on the ground has changed.

          • Anonamom

            I totally agree with this. See also Wilson HS’s reputation, and many, many “it” schools that lose their progress/gains with teacher attrition, changes in admin, etc.

        • dcd

          “And ANY DC school is about the same or less good than anything but the bottom third of PGC and bottom 5th of MC.”
          Anon X, that is about the most asinine statement I’ve read on the internet in quite a while – and I popped over to DCUM today, as well as the crazy dog lady thread on PoPville. I say that as someone whose kid attends one of the top Montgomery County elementary schools. You don’t know what you are talking about. It’s a statement that might, possibly, have been true 30 years ago – but probably wasn’t even then. I’m guessing you don’t have kids?

          • wdc

            I think AnonX might be my mom.
            She also thinks that DC is the murder capital of the US.

          • dcd

            I am kind of annoyed at myself – this was the perfect time to break out the old classic from Billy Madison:
            .
            “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

          • Anon X

            Standing by it. DC public schools, with exceptions in certain clusters, are underwhelming. Talk about perpetuating stereotypes but you write off all of PG – where there are decent schools outside the beltway. I’m not discounting how much they’ve improved but acting like you’d want to send your kid to any but a handful of the schools is disingenuous. That’s why there are practically riots when rezoning happens and people are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for homes inside certain boundaries. It’s an open secret that the dc public school system is practically a caste system. If the schools were as good as you say, people wouldn’t be having conniptions over the lottery and the boundaries. And if they are that good, I’m not the one who has to be convinced it’s the thousands of parents who are creating the uproars and scrambling for lottery slots.

      • textdoc

        Like Anon 12:44, I was somewhat bewildered when I first heard about people committing residency fraud in order to attend D.C. schools.
        .
        But as others have pointed out, the draw is 1) two years of free daycare and 2) some D.C. schools are superior to some MoCo and PG County schools.
        .
        I imagine that for people who live in the suburbs but work in the district, D.C. schools might also be logistically convenient as far as dropoffs/pickups are concerned.

    • bm

      free pre-school and pre-k is the big draw. but it also applies to charters, many of which, along with a few dc public schools, are a significant improvement over PG schools

    • Lottery

      The draw is free PK3 and PK4 in DC, something Maryland and Virginia don’t offer–residency cheaters are known to use false addresses/documents to get essentially free daycare in DC. And some jurisdictions in MD/VA only offer half-day kindergarten still, so that’s another draw to fake your way in to DC.

      It’s more about the free child care than the quality of the education.

      That said, there are a number of very good DC public schools and public charter schools which have huge waiting lists (there is a lottery for all PK3 and PK4 spots, and all charters are lottery – and you can lottery to attend a public school out of your neighborhood boundary as well). Language immersion charters are quite popular – the paucity of spaces should go to legal residents.

      In certain neighborhoods, the in-boundary school doesn’t have room for all the neighborhood kids wishing to enter at age 3 or 4 (they are guaranteed entry at kindergarten, but PK is all lottery) – so if you live on the Hill for example and your toddler got shut out of your neighborhood school for PK, but you got what you suspect are falsified residency documents delivered to your address so an out-of-state kid could attend, you might have the same reaction.

    • jumpingjack

      School Without Walls is one. I suspect that many of the kids are coming from Prince Georges County, and not Montgomery, Arlington, Falls Church, or Fairfax, which all have good public schools.

      • CapHillNative

        +1000 for SWW, love my high school!

    • Anon

      It can save someone tens of thousands of dollars. And families that once live in the district commonly do this out of a sense of connection/entitlement.

    • Anon

      Free daycare. DC has universal pre-k for 3 y.o. and 4 y.o. Saves you quite a bit of money (and time) if you work in the city but live in MD or VA. The kid is close to work and its free. The problem is real. There is quite a bit of residency fraud for this reason.

    • Anonamom

      It’s more than just free pre-K, though I suppose for some they come for the free pre-K and stay for other reasons. It also happens a lot for schools with non-standard curriculum – like Montessori, or Dual Language – since these programs are not offered in the surrounding counties (one or two schools doesn’t count). Another thing is that a lot of Title I schools also have free or subsidized after care. For some parents, it’s not about the most academically rigorous program, or the school with the highest test scores.

    • anondad

      “Based on what I have heard (and no real evidence) about DC schools”
      As someone with kids in DCPS (and not the upper NW ones), please stop perpetuating these stereotypes. It’s really insulting.
      I’m confident that my kids’ school and their development would compare favorably to most of yours.

      • CapHillAnon

        +3 – All the schools in our area are awesome. Problem comes at 3 grade and above where kids start getting taken out of DCPS and put other places.

    • Mary Thornton
    • ET

      I have decided that it isn’t necessarily about DC schools being better so much as it is being more convenient for the parents scheduling. That may not always the case but of course but it makes more sense.

    • Mary

      Yeah, I worked at Wilson HS in NW and sometimes would sort mail (was working as a substitute teacher). Used to get a good handful of returned report cards/mailers/etc from students’ residences. I remember a few with ‘never lived here’ and ‘non resident’. There were never a ton, but it made me sad, because it seemed like there was a much higher proportion of special needs kids’ mailers that got returned.

    • Dartagnan

      To answer your question, there may be a public charter school that the student is interested, in which case the non-resident may try to send their children to.

  • anon

    Did you actually open their mail? That’s an issue right there, tbh.

    • Marty

      meh. Anything that comes through my mailslot gets opened.

    • James W.

      What issue would that be? It’s not a crime to open mail addressed and delivered to your residence. I do it all the time for the dozen or so prior residents to see if it’s something important enough to try and forward or just toss in the trash. Relax.

      • PettyShabazz

        should be interesting when you’re at the top of the suspect list for identity theft

        • James W.

          Identity theft is itself a separate crime. We’re talking about the mere act of opening a letter addressed to your residence.

          • PettyShabazz

            I’m well aware that it is a separate crime. However, if someone stole my identity and I knew a specific individual had opened several pieces of mail addressed to me, that’s who I am telling the police to go talk to first. Just sounds like opening yourself up a to an unnecessary risk.

        • Margrave of Mt. Vernon

          Fact: Bears eat beets.

          Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.

      • KenyonDweller

        Wrong. It is a federal crime to open mail delivered to your address with someone else’s name on it.

        • Nancy

          Kenyon Dweller is correct, it doesn’t matter what the address is – if it’s not addressed to you, it’s illegal to open it without that person’s permission/knowledge.

        • James W.

          Read 18 USC 1708 and then get back to me KenyonDweller. It’s remarkable how comfortable people are just making stuff up with zero knowledge. I guess we’re truly in a post-factual era.

          • Anonymous

            Pretty sure that one doesn’t apply to this situation, because here we’re not talking about stolen mail. I’m sure some lawyer type can tell us which one does apply here.

          • James W.

            Pretty sure I’m a lawyer-type. And 1708 is the code in question. 1702 addresses physically retrieving mail from a receptacle aka obstructing correspondence.

          • dcd

            “It’s remarkable how comfortable people are just making stuff up with zero knowledge.”
            .
            Are you new to the internet?

        • James W.

          Anyone else want to chime in with their opinion on what the law says? While interesting, it doesn’t change case law or statute. Once the postal service delivers a letter to the appropriate address, it is no longer part of the postal system.

          U.S. vs. Palmer, Morrison, “How far does the postal system extend? One might say that it begins when the envelope is dropped into a depository and ends when the letter carrier puts it in a mailbox. There is substantial support for the conclusion that when the postal carrier delivers an envelope to the current residence of the addressee, the “mail” is at an end. A good example is United States v. Logwood, 360 F.2d 905 (7th Cir.1966), in which the postal carrier delivered to the landlady the mail for all tenants of a building that lacked letter boxes. The landlady regularly distributed the mail to the tenants, or they retrieved the mail from her apartment. One day the landlady’s son filched an envelope from her window sill. We concluded that this theft did not violate Sec. 1708 because the postal system had delivered the mail to the right person at the right address; the “mail” ended when the Postal Service finished its job.”

          • James W.

            Continued, in the context of OP getting repeated mailings at his address and presuming there’s been no change of address filed: “The Ninth Circuit said in Anton that if the former resident filed a change-of-address form, then the envelope remains part of the mail notwithstanding its delivery to the former address, while if the addressee did not file the form, then delivery to the address is the end of the “mail” for purposes of Sec. 1708.”

          • KenyonDweller

            Oh for heaven’s sake. You need to go back and re-read that case. It stands for the opposite proposition that you cite. The court upheld their convictions.
            .
            “The statute protects the interests of sender and intended recipient in the privacy and integrity of their communication; these interests are identical whether the problem be misdelivery or misaddress. The willingness (indeed duty) of the postal system to make further attempts to deliver to the addressee or to return an item sent with first-class postage show that the “mail” is not at an end in either case. . . . Palmer should have returned to the Postal Service the envelopes addressed to Powell; the application of Sec. 1708 will give persons in Palmer’s position a good reason to do this.”

          • Anon

            Gotta love when “lawyer-types” try to flex over the Internet and end up falling on their face. Keep it civil, boys.

          • Margrave of Mt. Vernon

            US v Palmer, Morrison affirms their sentences for opening and stealing missaddressed mail. However the court seems to stop short of determining if the rule of lenity should have been applied. Since the defendants were already on notice that their actions were unlawful, (they were stealing checks).

            How that would play out for a case of mail, intentionally addressed, not missaddressed or misdelievered the court is silent. The mail in question is explicitly intended to be opened by a resident at that location, within that jurisdiction.

    • Anon NS

      Considering no one will even investigate when someone fraudulently uses my credit card to order hundreds of dollars with of stuff, delivered to a DC address – Ima go ahead and risk opening up a piece of mail delivered to my address. Get real. That’s not going to get prosecuted.

  • Anon

    Wait – DC has its own fighter jet?

    • James W.

      DC Air National Guard

      • Anon

        Neato!

  • H St Resident

    Good luck getting the city to even begin to investigate this. So much fraud in DCPS.

  • northeazy

    Don’t bother. My son’s school had an issue with Maryland students attending his DCPS. So much so, the Daily Caller actually did an expose on it. When brought to the school’s attention, the Administration’s response was tepid. Something along the lines of “we have mechanisms to prevent fraudulent enrollment.” I then brought it up to the PTA and posted the series of articles the Daily Caller did to the List Serve. What proceeded was pure insanity. A discussion ensued about the “construct” of state borders (basically they are a racist vestige of slave states and free states and shouldn’t apply to a child’s education), that many students in Maryland have been “pushed out” of DC by gentrifiers and should be allowed to attend DCPS since their families “built it,” racism, politics, sanctuary cities, illegal immigration, and every other possible defense for school fraud. I was disgusted. Good luck. No one cares in my opinion about this.

    • Rich

      Using a site like Daily Caller” as your source is an invitation for this sort of thing and clearly you haven’t learned how to actually engage in a debate where you might do something like find some novel arguments rather than pushing some partisan nutcase blog’s postings.

      • AnonV2

        The source in this instance absolutely has a political slant to it, but residency fraud is a widespread, serious problem in DCPS and DCPCS. Those are facts under the partisan veneer.

        • textdoc

          Agreed.

      • north eazy

        yeah comments like that were what I received. As if the media it was printed in somehow made the pictures, named sources, and statistics fake.

        • wdc

          What? Where have YOU been for the last six months?? Pictures and sources are taken out of context all the time, and “statistics” are routinely mis-stated or plain made up.
          It’s kind of what the media is known for these days.

        • textdoc

          It’s a shame that it had to be a source like that that did the expose — it had some genuine substance to it, despite the alarmist-conservative tone and some degree of dog-whistling.

        • ET

          Lies, damned lies, and statistics is actually a thing.

    • DC Res

      Was that the series of articles where the reporter staked out the school and followed people home? I wouldn’t have responded to it either, frankly…

    • textdoc

      Even if nothing happened at that particular school as a result of the expose in Daily Caller, I think it did have some sort of effect — a month or two later, I started seeing ads on the sides of Metrobuses encouraging people to call OSSE about DCPS residency fraud.
      .
      For what it’s worth, this is a PoPville thread about the expose from the Daily Caller:
      https://www.popville.com/2016/07/dcps-maryland-residents/
      .
      The Daily Caller expose itself:
      http://dailycaller.com/2016/07/04/investigation-md-residents-ripping-off-dc-schools-while-admins-refuse-to-address-it/
      .
      Some more discussion of the issue from July 2016:
      https://www.popville.com/2016/07/random-reader-rant-andor-revel-1622/#comment-1158581

    • Meeeeee

      Your point about children (and their families) have been pushed out by gentrification is an interesting and valid one. As I mentioned in the original post, the mother is easy to identify. She is white, not originally from DC, has an elite undergrad education, is well-employed, and is trying to get childcare for her 3-year-old twins as a free loader. The fact that so many personal documents are sent to my address–where she has never lived–suggests to me that she is intentionally trying to game the system. I have no sympathy for this woman.

      One thing I didn’t write, is that I also received school lottery info at my address for a child that doesn’t have the same last name as the mother I am describing above. I am willing to believe it was an error made in good faith, and I have no intention of reporting that child!

  • PettyShabazz

    my opinion only but snitches get stitches

    • Grant Circle

      My opinion only, but get bent.

    • wdc

      Would you care to expand on that? Because it sounds like a threat of physical harm.

      • Deebs

        WYYYYYPIPO

  • No way

    Until it’s your kid who can’t get into a decent school paid for by your taxes because of others’ fraud.

  • JBiz

    I have no idea but my uninformed opinion is critically important to share

  • houseintherear

    Whether or not you report it, I’d suggest collecting all the mail in a box on your front porch or a baggie. Don’t take possession of it, don’t throw it out. I had a weird situation once with a neighbor who had mail sent to my house for some unknown reason, and it would have been best for me to have never taken it inside the house.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      uh, that sounds like the beginning of a very interesting story, I would love to hear the rest of it!

      • houseintherear

        Ha well it basically comes down to: the owners of an abandoned house near mine didn’t want to pay their bills so they sent them to me. I accidentally paid one (the DCWater impervious surface charge… I was a fairly new homeowner at the time and didn’t look at the Square and Lot numbers like an idiot), and then all the utility companies decided I was now in charge of all payments for that house. ANYWAY a couple years and a ton of time and it got sorted it out, but it would have been much better to leave that mail outside and never “take possession” of it. I can’t tell you how often I heard that phrase during the sorting out. ugh.

        • Formerly ParkViewRes

          OH MY GOD. What a nightmare!

        • dcd

          I was pretty sure that there were going to be drugs involved in that story. That’s just weird.

  • Idontgetit

    I don’t even open my own mail There…I said it.

    • Victoria

      Guilty! If it isn’t from my Mom, I usually don’t open it either. Online bill pay and USAA are the true American heroes.

    • anonymouse_dianne

      Me either. Unless its from the DC government, has a credit card in it, or a check. Everything I do is done on line or by autopay. I have to walk 1/2 a block to pick it up, which I am trying to do once a week.

  • Daniellef

    The fraudsters may work near you and it is more convenient for them to go to the DCPS near their place of employment. This was the case with 2 married police officers who lived in Maryland but worked in DC and fixed the paperwork so their kids could go to Eaton and then Deal and Wilson. The schools were in on the fraud and helped them do it. I can’t remember how they were called out eventually but the city sued them for tuition.

    • Anonymous

      They were caught because they sued their tenant in their investment apartment for non-payment of rent. Somehow the city connected the dots that they were using the address of the investment apartment for their fraudulent residency enrollment when they actually lived in Accokeek full-time. Dumb asses.
      .
      And yes, the school administration seems to be in on the entire scam. I think its just easier for them to turn a blind eye than make a fuss once the fraudster’s kids are already enrolled. No one wants to be the bad guy that tears up childhood friendships.

  • John B.

    It may not solve the problem, but why not cross out the name, write “no such person at this address, return to sender” and give it back to your mail carrier (or just drop it in the corner mailbox)? Washes your hands of it while also notifying the sender that there’s something fishy going on.

  • bruno

    My DC neighbor has had a Virginia registered car forever. Parks it in DC. Can never figure out the deal, but it’s not a thread I want to pull.

    • Ben

      Hey – they are paying VA property taxes for it (that he/she wouldn’t pay in DC) so jokes on them….

      • Anonymous

        VA ad valorem tax is deductible from federal taxes. Whereas the large tax DC levies when you go to register a newly bought car is not deductible. So yes, it’s annoying to pay that tax annually to VA but you can deduct it against your income.

  • Anon

    Please report it. Alot of the pre-k programs are at capacity and quite a few actual DC residents are turned away (like our family) because of this fraud. We are left footing the bill for daycare while it seems like half the cars dropping kids off at our local elementary have MD tags.

  • Anonymous

    One essential wrinkle to this equation is the proliferation of charter schools in DC. Charter schools have zero incentive to turn away a residency cheater and the voucher for funding that comes with that child. In fact, charters are incentivized to accept them as increased demand for the charter is seen as a sign of success for that school after which the school can ask the DC government for more resources (and thus levy more taxes on existing DC residents).

  • Sydney

    Good luck getting OSSE to do anything. Every morning at the Kipp school on P St NW, scores of Maryland-registered cars drop off kids, while snarling traffic and generating horn honking. OSSE, responding to a request on the link that others have posted, wrote back, “There’s nothing we can do.” Nope. They couldn’t possibly go there with a clipboard and ask the names and addresses of a few of the hundred children being dropped off, I guess. Free daycare for Maryland residents who drive in to pick up paychecks is what it looks like.
    .
    Didn’t spot anything in the Mayor’s budget that would suggest there’s going to be enhanced enforcement on this anytime soon.

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