We now join our story, already in progress...today's chapter: Re-registration or "Finding those freeloaders who are obtaining a Ridgewood education under false pretenses."
At last night's BOE meeting, Dr. Fishbein gave us the latest on the District's re-registration drive and, I'm happy to report, it's going well. Some of the schools are further along than others. Some schools are almost done. For example, at the High School, there are only 28 families left who need to bring in their paperwork to confirm they are Ridgewood residents. At BF, there are 25 families outstanding. At GW, there are only 4 families outstanding. Hawes has 9 families outstanding. Willard got a late start, so they are still collecting. And so on...Slowly but surely, families are showing up with proof of residency. Many of these last holdouts are due to missing leases, and needing to get copies of leases from landlords.
Dr. Fishbein feels that the "suspected" cases people talk about are usually joint or shared custody situations, or sometimes tuition students (we do have some students who attend our schools and pay tuition, whether for special ed or regular ed).
One convenient tool the District has been using in its research (although families still must submit paperwork): Did you know the Village of Ridgewood website has a page where you can enter any address, and it will show you the name of the owner, along with property value, taxes paid, and even a photo! (Check it out by clicking here.) This site makes it easy to double check what family should be living in what house. (And like I said, the District is still collecting the required paperwork, even if the info is on the Village website.)
Dr. Fishbein estimates the process will be complete by mid-May. When asked last night what would happen to those who had not yet submitted proper documentation by then, he said that the District would begin the process of disenrollment.
So did we catch any fraudulent families? When Dr. Fishbein mailed his initial letter, stating the requirements for proof of residency, there were three students who disenrolled from the high school. That's it. And we have no proof as to why those students left -- they could have left for any number of reasons. Or they could have left because of the letter.
One thing's for sure: the stories about dozens of students attending Ridgewood schools "illegally" are suburban legend. A myth.
But at least now we know for sure, and we can go forward into the future and confirm residency when students enter kindergarten, when they move to middle school and when they enter the high school. That should keep the records up to date and ensure that those -- and only those -- who are entitled to a Ridgewood education, actually receive one.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org