Each semester students are removed from Homewood-Flossmoor High School as the school board continues enforcement of policies to weed out students who aren’t legal residents.
The district does a full investigation each time a parent, student or community member brings an issue of residency to the administration. In November the board agreed to remove three students who were found to not be in compliance.
The Residency Verification Program has been in place for nearly 25 years. The district employs two investigators to check on whether a student is actually living at the address that was used at registration.
Parents or guardians are required to show several pieces of documentation to verify residency including: a lease, mortgage statement or house closing papers; a utility bill; current bank statement with in-district address; auto insurance policy or homeowner’s insurance.
The father of a sophomore student and her grandfather appealed to the District 233 school board at the December board meeting after she was removed from H-F in November.
The father had moved out of Homewood and said he “rented a room” in the grandfather’s house in Flossmoor so that his daughter could continue at H-F. He is an alumnus, and his two older daughters graduated from the high school.
He said his youngest daughter was a “caregiver” for her aging grandparents running errands, etc. and that she did live at their home. He questioned why the district allowed him to register her and then investigate and charge them tuition for the days she was enrolled.
“You treat us like common criminals,” he complained and then pleaded for an extension or pathway to residency.
Superintendent Von Mansfield said he would not comment on any specific family case, but reiterated the rules.
“Once information is received, those two gentlemen (investigators) take whatever time they need to investigate,” he said. “What that means is they’ll stay at a home 24 to 48 hours to see if the students are indeed living in those homes.
“One of the things the law says is that you must live there, so registering alone does not meet the residency requirements of the state of Illinois,” he stressed.
The investigators turn over their findings, photographs, public records, police records and other information to make the case of non-residency for the district. The district then notifies the family that it has reason to believe the student is not complying with residency requirements and a hearing is scheduled.
Mansfield said the family is welcome to bring an attorney with them to the hearing.
“A hearing officer will process all the information sent in by the school district and also information presented by the parent or guardian,” he explained. “At that point in time, the hearing officer will take that information and make a recommendation.
“If it is such that an individual or individuals are no longer residents or were never residents of the school district, there’s a tuition amount that’s charged for the time they were not residents. That amount is pro-rated.”
Tuition for the current school year is $9,280.92 per semester, or $104.28 per day.
Manfield said students and their families can re-establish residency, “but that doesn’t absolve them from the amount of (tuition) that was charged by the residency officer.”
Families can file a legal appeal after the hearing.
Information on suspicious students can be provided to Assistant Principal Craig Fantin at 708-335-5593. Fantin coordinates the student enrollment process and the Residency Verification Program.