BOE cracking down on out-of-town students

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NAUGATUCK — Students from out of town attending Naugatuck schools are costing the borough time and money and school board members are ready to prosecute offenders.

The Board of Education voted Nov. 8 to forward one case of an out-of-district student to the Naugatuck Police Department for further investigation.

According to Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson, incidents of students who do not live in Naugatuck attending borough is not a rare occurrence.

“Unfortunately every year we find some students enrolled in our schools who do not actually live in Naugatuck. That’s an expense to us,” Tindall-Gibson said.

Tindall-Gibson declined to discuss details on the case, due to the police investigation. However, he said he had a list of 10 other families the school system will investigate.

The cost of educating a student in Naugatuck is about $11,700 a year, according to Tindall-Gibson. He said if a family lives out of town and wants their child to attend school in Naugatuck they would have to pay that tuition.

Tindall-Gibson explained that parents who are not in the district, but still sending their children to schools in Naugatuck can find themselves in trouble with the law.

“That basically constitutes theft of service from the town, from the Board of Education, and from the taxpayers,” Tindall-Gibson said.

Board of Education Chairman David Heller asked Tindall-Gibson how the district becomes aware that there students who do not live in town attending the schools.

“It’s reported to us by a variety of different sources,” Tindall-Gibson said.

He explained that there are officials both in and outside of the school that report evidence of students attending the schools who do not live here.

However, Tindall-Gibson explained that the district is more focused on prevention than reaction.

“If we come upon a situation like that, the first step is to contact the parent and let them know we are concerned that they are living out of town and that they’re not entitled to an education here. Most of the time that is sufficient to initiate some action,” Tindall-Gibson said.

In some cases though, Tindall-Gibson said the district has to collect evidence that the parents are living out of town, involve the police, and bring charges against the parents.

Tindall-Gibson said in such cases the district could bring both criminal and civil charges against the parents.

Tindall-Gibson said in the case the board gave permission to move forward with, officials are seeking civil and criminal charges.

“In this case we’d be asking for the person to be arrested and go before a judge and the whole nine yards. And then a civil suit, an actual lawsuit filed against the person to collect the money that they owe us,” Tindall-Gibson said.

Heller asked if there was any cost to the board to pursue this prosecution

“There is some expense, but it’s the kind of expense we incur anyhow as we investigate these things, and become aware of them and encourage people to enroll their son or daughter in the school in the town where they live,” Tindall-Gibson said.

The board agreed pursuing this case would be in the borough’s best interest. However, Mayor Robert Mezzo, who is a member of the board, and board member James Jordan felt the board needs to establish a consistent policy with how to handle such cases in the future.

“I have no objection with you pursuing this particular case that you reference, but I would like to see some policies and procedures in place to know, if we continue pursuing these types of situations, how they will proceed so there is a very consistent process in place to deal with these situations,” Mezzo said.