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Published: Wednesday, 9/21/2011

Schools boost enforcement of residency law

Whitmer probe spurs action

Maumee High School Principal Larry Caffro, left, and Perrysburg Superintendent Thomas Hosler. Maumee High School Principal Larry Caffro, left, and Perrysburg Superintendent Thomas Hosler.

MAUMEE -- For the first time in years, parents at Maumee High School were required to show proof of their children's residency when school opened this year.

The residency check was a factor in a high school enrollment decline this year to 917 from 944 last year, Maumee High principal Larry Caffro said.

The stricter enforcement was put into place in reaction to an increase last year in the number of anonymous calls reporting students who live outside Maumee schools. Mr. Caffro said the rise in out-of-district students may be attributed to Toledo Public Schools' decision to cut several sports teams last year because of financial problems.

The residency issue intensified this month after the Ohio High School Athletic Association began investigating Whitmer High School, to which several students transferred and joined the football team.

Perrysburg Superintendent Thomas Hosler said the investigation makes educators more aware of the state's residency law. He said it isn't always black and white, depending on if a relative has custody of a child or if a family is homeless.

In Perrysburg, staff members look for returned mail or cars pulling up at bus stops as signs that children's addresses aren't authentic.

At Northwood High School, students fill out medical forms, which can send a "red flag" if they list a new address or a different guardian, Principal Jason Kozina said.

"We check [residency] if we need to, if something crosses a teacher's or administrator's desk," Mr. Kozina said, although he added it hasn't been a problem recently.

For educators, residency is a financial issue.

"We want to make sure we're spending our taxpayer money wisely," Mr. Caffro said. "Educating students who are not ours is obviously using money inappropriately."

In the past, Maumee schools checked residency when new students moved into the district or when students started kindergarten or sixth grade.

But this year was the first in Superintendent Gregory Smith's 16-year tenure that the district expanded the residency check to include the entire high school as well as the fourth grade.

Maumee parents were required to show two proofs of residency -- such as lease or mortgage, a utility bill or a driver's license -- when they registered their children for classes in August.

Contact Gabrielle Russon at: grusson@theblade.com or 419-724-6026.

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