Students must prove residency

Published 11:41 pm Friday, June 6, 2008

VIDALIA — Residency is once again an important issue in Concordia Parish, but this time the issue does not have to do with voter registration but with student registration.

All Concordia Parish students moving from one school to another — for example, from Vidalia Upper Elementary to Vidalia Junior High School — had to provide proof of residence for their school district.

In other words, the parents of all students entering the third, fifth and ninth grades, including at the Monterey and Ridgecrest Schools, had to prove residency by providing at least two of five proofs of residence.

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The Concordia Parish school district previously required students who registered in the district for the first time to provide proof of residence, but that changed after a visit from the U.S. Justice Department.

“We are still under a desegregation order, and this is just a follow up to show we are doing everything we can to follow the guidelines,” Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said. “The representative was very pleased with the facilities and the programs being offered, but this was one thing she asked of us.”

The acceptable proofs of residence included property tax statements, internal revenue forms, utility bills, a driver’s license or the voter’s registration card of the parent or custodian.

Originally, the representative from the Justice Department wanted to require that every student starting school in the fall have to prove residency, but district officials were able to convince the representative to compromise and agree to what is currently in place.

“After talking and explaining the amount of work and paperwork it would generate to require that of every student, the representative agreed to limit it to those registering at the schools for the first time,” Blankenstein said. “We were very appreciative of that.”

Should a significant number of students from the Concordia Parish school have to enroll in the Natchez-Adams schools because that is where their true residence is, there won’t likely be any problems absorbing the students into the system, Natchez-Adams School District Superintendent Anthony Morris said.

“We are not to capacity by any means,” Morris said.

The district has not received a final report about the number of students providing proof of residence, but most students were able to provide their information, Blankenstein said.

Even though the registration period ended Friday, those parents who have not provided proof of residence will have to before the school year begins.

“This must be done prior to the student being placed in a class for next year,” Blankenstein said.