Private investigator hired to find students living out of Central Ohio school districts

(WSYX/WTTE)

School districts within Franklin County plan to crack down on cheaters during the first week of school. However, they'll be targeting parents instead of their students.

Districts can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars when parents enroll their kids in schools but live outside district lines.

"People don't know this is really happening," said Private Investigator Peter Riddle who's been hired by Dublin, Hilliard, Reynoldsburg and Worthington Local Schools. "People will go to great lengths to have their children go to a certain school."

Seventeen thousand students attend Dublin City Schools. Riddle helped remove 16 during the last school year. He said that parents will use forged leases and the addresses of vacant homes to get students in the district. Riddle works to verify addresses through the auditor's office, clerk of courts and person home visits.

"Some (parents) are very angry," said Riddle.. "I've been threatened a number of times on the phone."

Administrators at Dublin City Schools said last year's student removal helped save the district more than $200,000. That's because when those students increase class sizes, more resources are needed and personnel.

"If they're a student with special needs, if they're gifted, if they're an English language learner, those comes with special services the student needs that the district wants to provide our kids," said Deputy Superintendent Tracey Miller. "I am surprised when a parent decides to move, let's say, the student's junior year. They cannot understand why the school system couldn't let their student finish out their junior or senior year. But, we can't."

Miller said the only exception to the residency rule is when a high school senior moves out of the district after his or her first day. That student will be able to finish out the year. There is also what's called a "superintendent's agreement" which is made in very rare cases. Miller said those deal with "life or death" type of conditions.

For more on Central Ohio's schools, you can see Scoring Our Schools coverage here.


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