NAUGATUCK — Board of Education member Glenn Connan has called for the board to investigate its policies regarding nonresident students who are enrolled in the district illegally.
Connan said it was a hot-button issue for him even before he was elected to the Board of Education in May. He said he has heard suspicious reports of people dropping their children off at a bus stop in a van and others getting on the train every day after school.
“I believe there are a substantial number of kids that live outside the district,” Connan said.
Connan called on the board to review its policies during a board meeting July 14. His request followed an incident the board discussed in executive session at a special meeting the previous night.
During the July 13 residency hearing, the board determined that one student whose parents live in another town is not eligible to attend Naugatuck schools, according to Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson.
Connan said he has heard from numerous sources about children who are attending borough schools illegally.
Connan said a police officer told him that some youth the police arrest go to Naugatuck schools but don’t live in town. He also said parents and two people, who previously worked in the schools, told him they knew of children who were taking advantage of the schools resources without paying taxes or tuition.
During the 2010-2011 school year, regular tuition for out-of-town students was $11,323 and special education tuition was $19,737. Officials said the district has had students pay tuition to come to Naugatuck in the past, but there were no such students last year.
“After the residency hearing, my suspicion proved true,” Connan said.
He said that if an out-of-town student signs up for preschool in Naugatuck, that student would be stealing from a Naugatuck child’s opportunity to go to preschool because there is a waiting list.
“It’s Naugatuck taxpayers’ money and if a student from Waterbury wants to go to Naugatuck, I’ll welcome a student from Waterbury, but they have to pay the tuition,” Connan said.
He felt it is easy for those who would send their children to Naugatuck illegally to fudge the residency requirement.
“I think the Naugatuck Little League puts more emphasis into finding out where you live than the Naugatuck school system does,” Connan said.
With Naugatuck’s limited resources, the district can’t afford to hire a private investigator to look into these cases, Connan said.
“We have limited resources and those resources need to be spent on Naugatuck children,” he said.
To help weed out nonresident students, Connan wants to start an incentive program to encourage people to come forward if they know someone who’s misrepresenting their residence to illegally attend Naugatuck schools. He suggested offering an iPad or monetary compensation to students and others who report abuse.
“I think that would be more effective than just hiring an investigator,” he said.
Connan said he also wants to discuss prosecuting those who steal educational services on criminal grounds and recovering the funds the district spent on those students.
Board of Education Chair David Heller referred the matter to the finance and policy committees. Connan serves on both committees.
Mayor Robert Mezzo requested that the Naugatuck Police Department be included in the conversation, which Connan said he would be glad to do.