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Board Takes Another Look at Residency Requirements

doorRevisions to policy # 5152, which pertains to the admission of nonresident students to Scarsdale schools, was reviewed and debated at the July 6th Board of Education meeting. The proposed changes to the policy, as Superintendent Dr. Hagerman outlined at the meeting, are as follows:

The policy originally said that the District would admit tuition-paying students upon consent of the Superintendent and the Board of Education. In the revised version of the policy, "and the Board of Education" is eliminated and "subject to the provisions of this policy" is added in its place. This leaves the decision making power in the hands of the Superintendent.

The prior policy required tuition payment up front for nonresident students, whereas the new policy allows for payment on a quarterly basis: (September-December) (January-March) (April-June). The Superintendent described how this alteration to the policy could make paying for school easier for some families.

Students participating in an exchange program in the District can attend Scarsdale schools without paying tuition according to the new revisions. The old policy required students an on exchange program to pay full tuition.  

In the prior policy, a student whose parents owned an unoccupied house in the District was able to attend school without paying tuition as long as: the student had lived in the house for the three years before the house's vacancy, the home was unoccupied due to a renovation, the parents continued to own the home, and the parents did not purchase another home. This section of the old policy was replaced in the new version by the sentence: "If a student whose parents are temporarily moving out of their primary residence for a period of less than a year, the parents must contract the District Registrar for appropriate procedures and protocols." 

In the new policy, the clause that permitted children who lived with relatives, another Scarsdale family or foster parents to attend the schools if the Scarsdale caregivers were given full custody has been deleted. However, Regulation #5152-R, which details verification and investigation of pupil addresses, seems to address some of the issues in the deleted section, as there is a provision in the Regulation for guardians to provide documentation of custody.

Lee Maude, a member of the Board of Education, asked Attorney Stephanie M. Roebuck of Keane and Beane to define residency in the context of the policy. Ms. Roebuck explained that residency is established when a student is living in a house in the district with a parent or guardian. She also clarified that if a student temporarily moves out of the district with an intent to return, that student is still considered a resident. However, a student is not a resident if his/her parents own a house in Scarsdale but have yet to move in to the house. Legally, she told the Board, there is no obligation to admit a student until they and their parents are living in a home in the District. Students in this situation can attend school only by paying tuition; this idea is outlined in the policy. 

The question of residency of children of divorced parents was also raised. Ms. Roebuck told the Board that students whose parents are divorced are only considered residents if they spend the majority of their time -- more than 50% -- in a house in Scarsdale.

Board member Scott Silberfein questioned the placement of the second subsection, which deals with families who temporarily move out of their homes. He reasoned that placing this section under the theme of "Nonresidents" is confusing, as people who temporarily move out of their homes are still residents. Instead, he argued, it should be at the bottom of the policy or in a separate paragraph.

The board did not discuss #5152-R, which outlines the implementation of the new policy, and did not vote to accept this policy. Presumably it will be modified and considered at a later meeting.

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