A judge has ordered Lt Alan Hill and Sgt Candace Hill, who work as police officers for the District of Columbia, to pay the city $448,047 under the False Claims Act plus about $90,000 in other fines for enrolling their children in D.C. Public Schools while living at various locations in Maryland and Virginia between 2003 and 2013, the Washington Post reports.
Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck agreed with the plaintiffs that the couple had been using the address of a house they were renting to tenants in the District in order to enroll their children at John Eaton Elementary School, Alice Deal Middle School, and Woodrow Wilson High School. The monetary amount is among the highest in such lawsuits in Washington, 24 of which have reached judgment or settlement, totaling more than $1.2 million, since DCPS started suing nonresidents for tuition in 2012.
The False Claims Act provides that non-District residents who attend city schools have to pay nonresident tuition for each student and each year, which can run anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000. Stories can be found in the media about parents who sit on wait lists for the city’s best schools as they watch people drive up with Maryland or Virginia license plates to drop off their children, the paper wrote.
Still, residency fraud can be hard to prove, especially since Washington has such a mobile population. Earlier this year, cases started popping up in the highly litigious state of New Jersey. Parents allegedly fabricated documents or lied about where they lived in order to get the chance to enroll their children in schools outside their own areas.
The problem here is that it can cost a school several thousand dollars to provide an education for one student, an amount that grows rapidly as students require special services. Parents who fake their addresses don’t contribute to local school taxes.