By: Davis Kennedy
The District’s Attorney General, A.G. Racine, has announced four lawsuits totaling almost $700,000 against six Maryland parents for sending ten children to Duke Ellington School of the Arts and public charter schools without paying out-of-state tuition.
The suit states the parents lied about being residents of the District to avoid paying tuition. There might also be hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.
In a news release, Racine said, “These out-of-state parents cheated District taxpayers and deprived our students of educational opportunities by fraudulently sending their kids to District schools for free.”
He continued to say,
“Residency fraud is theft and it is illegal. Parents who lie about residency to avoid paying non-resident tuition at District schools will face serious consequences for breaking the law.”
Tuition, the release stated, “typically costs between $10,000 and $14,000 per year.” In addition, paying non-residents are not normally admitted to a District school if there are D.C. residents on that school’s waiting list.
“The District can seek to recover up to triple the amount that is owed if a court agrees and also obtain civil penalties,” the release noted.
Racine’s office “has independent authority to investigate and take legal action under the False Claims Act.” The office always independently investigates any case sent to it by public school authorities or from elsewhere.
The parents, Racine’s office stated, “used District addresses that belonged to other individuals on the official forms and signed sworn statements attesting that they lived in the District.”
The office further revealed, “One set of parents who live in Brandywine, Md. sent three children to District schools. Two attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts and one Hyde-Addison Elementary and Hardy Middle School. The children’s mother, alleges the Attorney General’s office, also “fraudulently enrolled herself and her children in the District’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as the food stamp program. The suit seeks $258,253.80 to recover the benefits and penalties that could reach as much as $241,000.
Another mother of a four children being sued is a resident of Oxon Hill, Md. Two children attended McKinley Technology High School and two Wheatley Middle School. The suit seeks damages $188,196.00 and penalties that might total $77,000.
In other case, two employees of the District’s Department of Corrections reside in Hyattsville, Md. and Capitol Heights, Md. They sent two children to Ballou High School, one of whom also attended Richard Wright Public Charter for Journalism and Media Arts.
The suit seeks to recover damages of $192,000 and is requesting penalties that might total as much as $88,000. The father is also named in a second lawsuit along with his current wife for sending their children to Capitol Hill Montessori School in the current school year. The suit seeks to recover damages of approximately $56,298.00 and penalties that might total as much as $44,000.