OPRF residency verification process under review

Rouse: Administrators still assessing data from spring pilot program

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

More than 2,000 families last spring went through Oak Park and River Forest High School's residency verification process, but school administrators aren't ready to say just how many students are currently enrolled for this year.

Principal Nathaniel Rouse said administrators are still reviewing that data. New families and transfer students, meanwhile, enrolled over the summer, and that data isn't final until after Labor Day, he said.

Last April's registration process screened a total of 2,077 parents and guardians. It was a one-year pilot to verify every family all at once as opposed to checking residencies throughout the school year as they did previously. If made permanent, Rouse said, residency will be checked every April.

Parents are required to bring in proper documentation to prove where they live. The verification process in April began on a Friday and wrapped up on a Tuesday, with OPRF staff checking papers at stations setup in the Student Center. But if a question later arises about residency once a student is enrolled in classes, that student won't automatically be kicked out of school, Rouse explained.

"As the school code indicates, a student who starts with us has the right to end the year with us as well," he said. "If we prove that they're non-residents, then at the end of that year, they're going to have to go to the school where they reside."

That typically happens if a family moves out of the district during the school year. But if the high school feels a family never lived here, then those students are subject to a residency hearing.

A formal letter is sent to parents giving them 10 days to request a hearing. The student/s remains enrolled during that period.

If a hearing is requested, the student will remain enrolled until the hearing process is complete, concluding with a decision by the school board on whether or not the student is a resident.

"We investigate. We get tips, whether it's mail coming back or wonderful taxpayers who let us know things, and then we begin the process of investigating," Rouse said.

"Residency laws change from year to year and it goes back and forth," he added. "What we've gotten better at is making sure the individuals who start school here are residents.

That's what our verification process is for. It's not to play 'I got ya' after you get here. It's to prevent that problem from surfacing in the first place by scrutinizing residency early."

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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Real List  

Posted: November 5th, 2013 2:36 PM

OPRFHS ranks as the 43rd best HS in the area. If non-residents truly cared about their child's education, wouldn't they do everything they could to send their kids to one of these "superior" 42 schools? Why settle for #42? The truth is, you could replace OPRF with Richards HS in Oak Lawn (rank #442) and folks would still cross over. Convenience does not equal caring. OP taxpayers should not be penalized for proximity. A Maine South commute is doable via public trans...if you truly care.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: November 5th, 2013 1:46 PM

Further, as non-PC this may be, I'd bet a high percentage of non-residents are performing below average which further brings down the overall quality of the school which indirectly affects housing values of the entire village. The intangible costs of this issue are huge.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: November 5th, 2013 1:43 PM

What does it cost to educate a student at OPRF? $10k/yr? If just 50 students at the school are non-residents that is $500k annually. If we assume those 50 matriculate, that is $2,000,000 over four years assuming no further non-resident students come in the que. Witch Hunt, are you stupid enough to think it cost $500k a year to vet student residency? I bet you could vet that entire school for under $10k in time and resources.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: November 5th, 2013 1:04 PM

Muntz for president. How do we know that preventing the fraud costs more than the fraud?


Posted: November 5th, 2013 1:02 PM

OPTransplant - 100% on target. I would expand it to include the patronizing paternalism that accompanies the financial burden the 'white' man also assumes.


Posted: November 5th, 2013 12:58 PM

@Wichhunt - I daresay it will be far more life shooting fish in a barrel. Easy peasy.


Posted: November 5th, 2013 12:57 PM

Fraud for what? Did you see recent report on HS in Illinois and how OPRF is doing. Honestly, if the cheats are as good a gaming the system as we all think, they would be smart enough to game in school district that is not going down the toliet...

Witch hunt!   

Posted: November 5th, 2013 12:46 PM

Oh the whining and complaining is music to my ears! You guys realize that you're asking to waste just as much taxpayer resources finding the fraud as the actual fraud happening. Genius! You're all geniuses!

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: November 5th, 2013 12:05 PM

Muntz, the liberal mantra is making others pay for their do gooding social experiments. I have no problem if OPRF wants to reserve a few spots for deserving non-residents and have individuals provide scholarship funds to do so. This isn't a hard problem to solve. Either you live in OP or you don't. It isn't that difficult to verify.


Posted: November 5th, 2013 10:38 AM

Easy solution - The cost to educate any student found to be a non-resident after the start of school year (and cannot be transferred) comes out of D200 administrative salaries or pension funds. Watch the process tighten up (or change) after that. Accountability can be a uknowwhat.


Posted: November 5th, 2013 10:14 AM

A non resident student has a legal right to attend OPRF? What kind of nonsense is that. They have a legal right to attend the school in their district. With this type of policy why wouldn't kids/parents try to cheat in? A full school year gratis? Think about how silly this is. Release the data.

Brian Slowak from Oak Park  

Posted: November 5th, 2013 9:39 AM

"residency laws change from year to year" please state the changes in the residency laws. If so, why cant the school code be changed to reflect that a student must reside in town for the entire school year. "I got ya after you got here" is still not living in the district.

OP Transplant  

Posted: November 5th, 2013 9:17 AM

"Paternalism" is the perfect word. The mindset behind it is, "We're better than they are, so being with us can make them better, so it's wrong to deny them the privilege of being with us." Kipling called it the white man's burden, and it's based on the presumption of white superiority.


Posted: November 5th, 2013 8:35 AM

Cough, BS, cough. "As the school code indicates, a student who starts with us has the right to end the year with us as well," he said. "If we prove that they're non-residents, then at the end of that year, they're going to have to go to the school where they reside." This is insane, and not the way it works anywhere else. Stop the paternalism, it is costing me the taxpayer money. If you want to go to OPRF, live here.


Posted: November 5th, 2013 7:53 AM

OPRF residency outcome. When will the school share the outcome. A school wide residency check deserves an outcome. Why staff a residency officer if the kids stay a full year anyway. The school code needs to change, and the results need to be published and acted upon if needed.

Fred from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 11:09 PM

Two things: 1. If I understand this correctly, a student with a one month lease for August will be eligible for the entire year( seems like a waste of actual tax payer money). 2. Is a student that starts the year at OPRF who is found in violation of the residency requirement still eligible to play sports?

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