Monday, August 25, 2008

School Troubles

The latest on my school situation is that the district is still refusing to budge. They will not enroll my son unless I submit a notarized residency affidavit--in fact, I must submit their specific form.

What's happening is that they do not dispute my residency. They are asserting their power to force me to comply with the policy they have set up. On one hand, I can see that people need to follow the policies of the district. On the other, the policy exists only to ensure residency.

I got the most cracktastic letter from the district's lawyers on Saturday. I had sent a letter indicating that I was going to use my right to pursue legal action under Massachusetts General Law 76.16, which reads:

Section 16. Any pupil who has attained age eighteen, or the parent, guardian or custodian of a pupil who has not attained said age of eighteen, who has been refused admission to or excluded from the public schools or from the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public schools shall on application be furnished by the school committee with a written statement of the reasons therefor, and thereafter, if the refusal to admit or exclusion was unlawful, such pupil may recover from the town or, in the case of such refusal or exclusion by a regional school district from the district, in tort and may examine any member of the school committee or any other officer of the town or regional school district upon interrogatories.

The lawyer claimed that since I have not fulfilled the residency requirement, I am not a resident, thus I can't sue.

*mind boggles*

OK, if I'm not a resident of the town, then I must be homeless. At which point I am entitled to certain protections under McKinney Vento, one of which is that the district can't require a residency affidavit from me.

See how ridiculous this is?

Further ridiculousness: they are not disenrolling my daughter.

In my research, I have learned that school districts often violate the laws. Pennsylvania seems to have a particular problem. (pdf file) New Jersey has a whole Education Law Center devoted to protecting student rights. I wish Massachusetts had something similar.


stranger said...

They are being ridiculous, but is it worth the hassle and legal fees to fight it?

Banks also have notaries. It doesn't have to be the town hall. I'm not certain what having the document notarized will do to improve the form, as all a notary does is witness that you are who you say you are, and that you are not signing under duress.

stranger said...

You could speak with a lawyer. He or she would probably recommend that you file the silly form, but I don't think that it's a winning position for the school district to refuse to enroll your child, who has a right to attend school in his own town.

However, a threatening letter from a lawyer can work wonders. As any friends with special needs kids, which local lawyer they'd recommend, because such a lawyer will be up to date on laws pertaining to schools.

Wendy said...

Thanks! I've basically taken your advice as it stands. My son is enrolled, as we submitted the notarized document, the complaint is with the state ed dept, and we're all just waiting for the results of their investigation.