Officials: Students out of district still parish problem

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

VIDALIA &045; Attendance Supervisor Howard Jackson won’t even venture a guess on how many students attending his schools don’t live in the school district.

&uot;We are dealing with a 33-year-old problem,&uot; Jackson told the Concordia Parish School Board a week ago. &uot;Will we ever get it completely stopped? I doubt it.&uot;

For one reason or another, children who live in a neighboring parish or in Adams County choose to attend one of the Concordia Parish public schools, and they break the rules to do it.

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&uot;It’s an unfortunate situation,&uot; he said Monday. &uot;Some of the kids have been involved in Concordia Parish schools for years. It’s become a deep-rooted problem.&uot;

And though he’s not optimistic about an overnight solution, Jackson isn’t going to stop trying.

&uot;We are working on it,&uot; he said. &uot;And when we can verify beyond doubt, the principal will be given authority to call the family.&uot;

Jackson’s plan involves the slow process of consistently watching car tags, working with the sheriff’s department to match numbers with owners and then addresses.

&uot;It’s going to consume some time,&uot; he told the board. &uot;It’s pretty hard to pin some of these people down.&uot;

Parents registering children for school are required to show proof of residence, but &uot;it’s easy to beat the system,&uot; Jackson said.

Some parents use a false address, a family or friend’s address or even go so far as offering to pay residents to use their address or utility bills, he said.

Once a child is in the school system, it becomes fairly easy to stay in.

Though the district receives state money based on the number of children enrolled, out-of-district students are against school policy and can potentially cause overcrowding, Jackson said.

The district also struggles with out-of-zone students, a student who lives in Ferriday but attends school in Vidalia. Jackson and principals will address this problem in the same way as out-of-district students.

&uot;The numbers aren’t down,&uot; he said.

&uot;They are probably up. We are dealing with a problem that’s not going away. We’ll never get them all out.&uot;