Proof of residency required for parish school registration

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 25, 2010

VIDALIA — When registration for school starts in Concordia Parish this week, the parents of all students entering a new school will be required to show proof of residency in the school district in which they wish to enroll their children.

The requirements come from the U.S. Department of Justice, which recently told the school district it will have to continue with the strict enrollment policy, Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said.

The requirements are part of a federal desegregation order.

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“Three years ago (DOJ representatives) visited all of our schools,” Blankenstein said. “They found all the schools had equitable services and academic programs, but they looked at all the school lines for attendance and wanted to make sure all the students were attending in the correct school zones and that we as a district were doing what we could to ensure that was the case.”

To guarantee students are in the correct district, all students enrolling in a school for the first time — including those who have previously been enrolled in another parish school — have to prove residency.

In other words, students moving from a lower to upper elementary, or from junior high to high school, must also prove residency despite their previous enrollment.

And students whose residency has not been verified cannot be seated when school starts.

Items to prove residency include a voter registration card, a property tax statement, a driver’s license, utility bills and tax forms. At least two items of proof have to be provided at the time of registration.

If a verification is suspect, Blankenstein said Supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance Brenda Moore could request an immediate home visit at the time of registration to verify the student lives where their guardian says they live.

“We find it is very easy to get some of the information, but occasionally if there is a question, we do require additional information,” Blankenstein said.

“It is not a part of our job we enjoy doing.”

Moore said multiple home visits are not uncommon when verifying a student’s residency, but that the goal of the visits are not to make a target of anyone.

“We are not out to get anybody, we are not out to trap anybody — we want our children in school,” Moore said. “We are just following policy and procedure and we are just asking you to please cooperate.”

In addition to verifying residency, parents of students entering the sixth grade will have to provide documentation that their students have up-to-date immunizations.