NEW CASTLE —
The auditors found those students’ registration forms on file at the district showed their homes were within the district boundaries.
Five of their forms showed they lived in the district with their parents, while two students’ forms showed they lived with their grandparents.
No affidavits, custody agreements or other legal documents showing legal guardianship were provided for two students said to have been living with grandparents.
The auditors noted that residency could easily have been verified by reviewing the district’s payroll records.
The report notes that the district administration waived the opportunity to reply to the preliminary finding.
Management at the time was under now-retired Superintendent George J. Gabriel, who sat in on a private conference with the auditors and board members when the findings were first revealed.
BILLING THE PARENTS
The audit report recommends the district bill the parents to pursue collection of the tuition owed, and the board at its meeting resolved to do that.
The board also is re-examining its policy, looking at ways to strengthen it where residency is concerned.
And it is considering whether to establish a committee or appoint someone or an agency to be watchdog over the enrollment and residency records.
“The policy isn’t bad,” board president David DiGiammarino said. “It’s the enforcement where (the district) dropped the ball.”
District policy currently requires immunization records, proof of a child’s age, proof of residency and a sworn statement by parents.
Board policy committee chairwoman Barbara Razzano said she learned from the auditor general’s office that a lot of districts are requiring IRS tax forms as proof of residency.
“It’s a year-round issue of who’s claiming the child,” she said.
DiGiammarino said that in notifying the parents, they will be told that the burden of proof is on them.