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January 30, 2014

Couple make deal in charges over girl’s school

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia husband and wife whose daughter attended a suburban school district while living in the city have reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

The circumstance are similar to a situation revealed in the New Castle school district last year, where three teachers living outside the district sent their children to city schools without paying the required tuition.

However, in the New Castle incidents, no charges were filed and school officials have indicated they have no plans to pursue them.

In the Philadelphia case, Hamlet and Olesia Garcia were charged with theft of services and conspiracy for allowing their 5-year-old daughter to attend the Lower Moreland School District while living a mile over the county line in Philadelphia last school year.

Hamlet Garcia pleaded guilty Tuesday to a summary charge of providing false information. He also agreed to pay the school district restitution of $10,700 for one year of school tuition.

In exchange for the plea, charges against Olesia Garcia were dropped.

If convicted, the Garcias could have faced up to seven years behind bars.

Revelations about the New Castle teachers and their failure to pay required tuition became public as the result of a report issued last year by the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office.

The auditor general’s investigation determined that seven non-resident students, who were children of teachers, were enrolled in the city district without tuition being paid. The report also noted the district had received more than $110,000 in state subsidies that had to be refunded.

The district has sought compensation from the teachers. It also fought to protect the identities of the employees involved.

The New Castle News had filed a state open records request for the names and after the district refused to release them, The News appealed to the Office of Open Records. That state office ordered the district to release the names of the three teachers.

The district did, identifying the teachers as Jamie Lynn DeMase, Dinia Kollar and Kelly Glies.

(The New Castle News contributed to this report.)

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