The District 86 Board of Education unanimously approved a
motion directing the district’s administration to set up a new procedure
whereby all families with a District 86 student, new or returning, need to
prove their residency within the district.
Incoming freshmen and new students are already required to prove residency. Going forward, acting Superintendent Bruce Law said, “It’s not just new students or students who are incoming freshmen, but it will be every student.”
Currently, Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South have different proof-of-residency forms. Law said those will be replaced by a new form that will be created at the district level.
“We need to have a form that looks the same with the exception of the letterhead,” Law said.
Based on the forms of other districts and those currently used for new Central and South students, the new form would likely demand some combination of a parent or guardian's residency documents, such as mortgage papers or a signed lease, and personal identification like a driver's license, library card or voter ID card.
Board member Ed Corcoran said the residency issue is a big
one for residents he has spoken with. He said it’s important, no matter what
the new form looks like, that the residency-check process be audited.
He mentioned private investigation firms or outside accounting firms as possible auditors.
“Whatever you do you have to have an audit process that follows up,” Corcoran said.
Law said at the board’s Aug. 21 meeting that 102 students at Hinsdale Central and more than 400 at Hinsdale South were "red-flagged" last year and required to prove their residency after administration suspected that they did not live within the district's boundaries.
He said the district does not any records on how many of those students were indeed non-residents.
Board President Claudia Manley expressed doubt about whether officials at Central and South have indeed been checking the residency of all new students and incoming freshmen. She said she did not have to prove her residency when her daughters began at South as freshmen.
“I do believe that if you would talk to some people at South, as incoming freshmen they have not been checked,” Manley said.
Student residency issues in District 86 are regulated by Board Policy 7.60.
According to that policy, a student whose family moves to another district during the school year is allowed to finish the year in District 86.
But the policy also states, “If the Superintendent or designee determines that a student attending school on a tuition-free basis is a non-resident of the District, the student will be removed from school.”
There are three exceptions to the residency requirement, according to the District 86 policy:
- If there is “an intergovernmental agreement to accept non-resident students under the No Child Left Behind Act’s school choice provisions.”
- If there is a “written agreement with cultural exchange organizations and institutions supported by charity to provide for tuition-free attendance by foreign exchange students and non-resident pupils.”
- Or if “any State or federal law or a court order mandates the acceptance of a non-resident student.”
If a child is determined to be homeless, they must be immediately admitted regardless of a parent or guardian’s ability to establish residency.
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