- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The county’s most crowded high school is about to be the target of an enrollment audit, ensuring that those who attend the school are authorized to do so.
Superintendent James E. Richmond said Tuesday during a Charles County Board of Education meeting that the school system is monitoring enrollment at each school. When it comes to school-wide reviews, it is starting with North Point, which he said is “severely overcrowded.”
The school was built with a state-rated capacity of 1,600 students. Based on that capacity, the school has more than 600 too many students.
With consideration of portable classrooms and common areas in the school equipped to accommodate additional students, the school’s core capacity is 1,920. Looking at core capacity, the school is overcrowded by 332 students at 2,252, Richmond said.
Student board member Azeezat Adeleke, 17, said that while she has noticed that North Point, her school, is crowded, she recognized staff for doing its best to manage the numbers.
Adeleke said there are 19 floating teachers at the school, meaning they do not have their own classrooms, and 12 teachers have given up their planning periods “so us students have a better education.”
North Point Principal Kimberly Hill said staff is doing a great job with a positive attitude and dedication to provide a quality education to students every day.
Meeting that challenge with hundreds more students than the school is supposed to have, Hill said, “makes the job harder.”
“The idea of doing an audit just to be sure that everybody who is here is appropriately here makes sense,” Hill said.
Schools spokeswoman Katie O’Malley-Simpson said the school system will investigate suspicion of fraudulent enrollment when complaints come in. She said in the past two years, 60 students were enrolled fraudulently at North Point.
She said when there are that many over two years, “we felt it was time to do a complete audit.”
“I heard the complaints during the elementary and middle school redistricting [last year] that people feel there are students throughout the county, but particularly on the North Point campus, who are not zoned to attend these schools and are causing overcrowding. I felt we needed to investigate thoroughly those claims,” Richmond said in a news release.
With redistricting for the area’s newest high school in St. Charles approaching, O’Malley-Simpson said the North Point review will help to answer the question of whether or not students are attending the high school legitimately.
Because North Point is both a traditional high school and a school for science technology and industry, not all of the students are required to live in the specific attendance zone.
Those 950 students who competed for spots in the STI programs from area high schools including North Point will not have to prove they live in North Point’s zone but will have to prove they live in Charles County.
According to a letter sent home to parents, the plan to confirm students’ residency status includes but is not limited to: a review of all residency documents, including lease agreements and statements of residency; unscheduled home visits to confirm the accuracy of residency documents and a review of public information regarding home ownership.
The review will begin immediately.
Parents or guardians might be asked questions about residency status and might be asked to produce additional residency documentation “that any legitimate home owner/renter should easily be able to provide,” the letter states.
Examples of these documents include a deed, lease or rental agreement, a utility bill with complete name and address listed, a cellphone bill with name and address listed, car registration, court document or a certified letter with a settlement date.
Additional examples can be found on the school system’s website at www.ccboe.com.
Those found to be enrolled under false information will be subject to immediate withdrawal of their children from North Point.
The letter states that in some cases, the family may be charged tuition.
O’Malley-Simpson said that in the event that a student is found to live outside of the state or county and falsified information, that student would be charged tuition retroactively.
Tuition for students living outside of Maryland is $11,200 per year. Those living in Maryland but outside of the county pay $6,980 per year.
Students who live in the county who used false information will be withdrawn and sent to their home school.
Families whose children are enrolled at the school under false information have until Sept. 19 to withdraw the student with no questions asked and no tuition charges.
“I hope parents will respond before we need to take action,” Richmond said in the news release.
O’Malley-Simpson said there are laws that make it illegal to falsify information on documents in order to gain benefits from the goverment, in this case, to attend a school a student is not zoned for.
In addition to overcrowding, students enrolled in a school who use false information pose a threat to the athletic programs.
“If we find an out-of-zone student playing on one of our teams, the entire team suffers the consequence for this ineligible player through forfeited games,” Richmond said.
Anyone with knowledge of a student who is attending school who does not reside in the school’s attendance zone can contact the school or anonymously call the school system’s fraud hotline at 301-302-8305.