OPRF revisits residency verification process

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Officials at Oak Park and River Forest High School this month are expected to review the school's revamped residency verification process that went into effect in spring 2013.

Under the pilot program every OPRF parent or guardian was required to bring documents to the school during a four-day verification period which offered proof that they lived in the school district. 

In all, roughly 2,000 parents went through last year's registration process. Currently, about 3,200 students are enrolled at OPRF, some in families with multiple students enrolled. In previous years, OPRF checked addresses and leases throughout the school year, which school officials said was cumbersome and time-consuming for staff. 

School officials deemed the pilot program a success, with the vast majority of OPRF parents participating last April. 

According to OPRF spokesperson Karin Sullivan, roughly 300 students' schedules were pulled during last year's verification process after parents failed to prove residency. Parents are required to provide such documents as leases or utility bills as proof of where they live. Any parent who did not go through last April's verification period could schedule a time to come in later with their documentation.  

Of those 300 cases initially flagged, about 180 were later reinstated after parents provided proof of residency, Sullivan said. The remaining cases are considered "inactive," Sullivan said.

"Sixty-four of those 113 were incoming freshman, so it is not truly known whether they ever planned on attending. They completed the online enrollment process, but may have either never intended to go to OPRF or later decided to attend another school, such as Fenwick or Trinity. The other students were sophomores, juniors, and seniors," Sullivan said.

OPRF administrators and the school board plans to review the pilot program this month, Sullivan said. 

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

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LiquidEvil from Oak Park  

Posted: January 11th, 2014 5:22 PM

Why are we even debating this? Property taxes are high enough without having to support additional non-resident students. Claiming that we should be working to get these students valid residency is beyond ridiculous.


Posted: January 9th, 2014 10:38 PM

Speaking of residency, has Village Manager Cara Pavlicek moved into Oak Park yet? It has been over a year since she was awarded the job.

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 6:13 PM

As a person who grew up with modest means and worked very hard for a long time to be in a position to have my kids attend school in a good suburban district, I resent the hell out of those from similar backgrounds who achieve the same ends by lying and cheating (and instructing their children to lie and cheat.) I do not intend for my property taxes to subsidize folks who want the same things for their children as I want for mine, but don't feel like doing the work.

Easy solution  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 6:10 PM

How does Mares know who "lives" there? The legal definition of residency for non-school purposes is pretty vague. You get to use the public schools if you're in a home the majority of the time. Are we policing time spent in-home via snooping neighbors now? lol

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 6:00 PM

Easy - Mares has pointed out that the two enrolled students don't actually live in the apartment, making this situation an extraordinarily poor example of "totally valid residency". I'm beginning to suspect that your enthusiasm for letting out-of-district students attend school here is fueled by your lack of understanding of how the system is designed to work.

Easy solution  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 5:39 PM

Violet, I did say up to the occupancy limit. I don't know RF code. I know in OP it's no more than 3 people in a studio and sq footage for person's per floor space.

Violet Aura from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 5:23 PM

@Easy: It's NOT legal for four people to live in a one-bedroom apt. so that's scratched right off the bat.

Easy solution  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 5:05 PM

Mares, you posted before I could use that example...totally valid residency. The students living with grandma are fine as long as they are with her full time. People are allowed to share bedrooms up to the occupancy limits, right? You don't like it, I'm guessing. But not really our business.

Easy solution  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 4:59 PM

Have you looked at the list of residency verification documents? If mom & dad move in w/grandma who already lived here it's possible they wouldn't have all the gas bills, mortgage documents, vehicle registration being asked for. Heck, I couldn't but I live here. No car, no phone bill, no bank statement, and you might be screwed even if you legally live here. But I'm guessing the district has in place some procedures in place for those extreme situations?

Mares from River Forest  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 4:56 PM

Right, I contacted the register's office about out of district students using the address at 7373 W. North Avenue, Unit 2SW, River Forest, IL. The grandmother lives in a one bedroom apartment and the next thing you know she allows 4 people to move in this summer who are not on the lease.The two she enrolled vanished months ago (they don't reside in district) yet one attends OPRF High School and the other Roosevelt Middle School. So much for the registers doing their jobs !!! NOT


Posted: January 8th, 2014 4:25 PM

What does inactive mean? The communication director isn't clear here. Does this mean that 120 less students are not enrolled at OPRF because they were not residents?

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 4:22 PM

I doubt most of these parents view it as "stealing". I also think threatening incarceration for it is a bit of a stretch. Regardless, the real dollar cost is a lot, not to mention the intangible cost. Since it is "only" 50 students, people like Easy shouldn't have a problem putting up their own money to pay the cost of these students to attend OPRF.

Bill D  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 4:03 PM

@ Dan. A couple points. Science is undergoing considerable review of just when a person attains full reasoning powers. Development of pre-frontal cerebral cortex, etc. The Catholic church actually holds that the "age of reason" occurs around age seven, when a child can distinguish right from wrong. But just because a child knows something is wrong-particularly if the wrong doer is a parent-doesn't mean that child can see past the child/parent relationship. There's a reason we have juvenile laws.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 3:38 PM

Bill at some point a student reaches the "age of reason". (usually age 13). Once past the age of reason the student knows that they are violating the law if they actually live out of district and lie to say they reside in Oak Park or River Forest. As I used in my example, if parent and child shoplift together, they are both arrested and prosecuted. We are talking about $68,000 over four years, per border jumper. That is big money!!.. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 2:48 PM

@Easy...So you support vouchers and having the kids be able to go to whatever school they want? Try the word voucher in OPRF and wait for the unions to speak up. Also don't we have people out on Lake and Harlem every Saturday protesting the 1% rich people? So does 1% of something matter? Simple put...live in the district then you can go to the school. If you live somewhere else go to that school. We are not taking about kids with no addresses.

Easy solution  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 2:32 PM

Some of you want to see this is the most vulgar ways possible, but it sounds like a social work issue to me. Get this handful of kids in contact with services and aid to get a valid Oak Park address. Rather than set up a wall, work with those families to integrate better as full residents. Claiming the family needs to be prosecuted doesn't represent our community values well.

Bill D  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 2:16 PM

Easy, Dan. I share your opinion on prosecuting, but the parents are the perpetrators, not the kid(s). They're minors, and they can't legally enroll themselves, so they can't perpetrate any crime here.

Real List  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 2:10 PM

@Easy - That translates to a $750K savings, well worth it to me. Perhaps you can contact the Winnetka, Oak Brook, Hinsdale school districts and find proper placement for these deserving children yourself.

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 12:17 PM

Easy - Exactly! The last thing we want to do is enforce existing laws so that district resources can actually be spent on kids who live here. Also, if someone breaks into your garage and steals your bicycle, we should form an intergovernmental agency to provide bicycles for thieves.

Easy solution   

Posted: January 8th, 2014 11:25 AM

So not counting the freshmen we're unsure about, we're talking 49 out of 3200 students that the crazies get all worked up over? 1% of the student population? Perhaps we should be using intergovernmental cooperation to find appropriate in-district housing for those families and make sure they can be legit enrolled rather than look down our noses at them like criminals. No need to be curmudgeony about kids trying to get an education. This is not a massive problem, but a manageable one.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 11:07 AM

The most effective deterrent to border jumping is criminal prosecution, for both the parent and student. E.G. My teenage daughter and I go to Jewel and steal $500 of merchandise. We will both be handcuffed, arrested and put on trial. We lie about our residency and steal a $17,000 education and we might get tossed out of OPRFHS. Perp walks for parent and student would be very effective.


Posted: January 8th, 2014 9:59 AM

I can only speak for my own family - our child applied/took the test for Ignatius but we weren't going to have an answer before the time the OPRF paperwork was due, so of course we had to be ready for both schools and later notified OPRF...

Ms. Sullivan Conscience  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 5:08 AM

Stop lying to yourself: high school isn't college and OPRF isn't anyones "safety school". Nobody decide last minute to go to a competitive enrollment school like Fenwick or Trinity... you have to take a test to get in, Fenwick's is Saturday. Oh and most important, stop lying tot he public. Thanks.

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