District Claims Family Lives Out Of Town, Sues For $30K In Tuition

OAK PARK, Ill. (STMW) — Suburban high school officials are suing the parents of two students enrolled in classes during the 2009-2010 school year, accusing the family of living in Chicago — outside school boundaries — and ordering them to fork over more than $30,000 in out-of-district tuition.

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 filed the suit Tuesday against parents Maurice Carter and Terri Shaw Carter, who say this is the latest chapter in the ongoing battle with the school district. They say their family owns and lives in an Oak Park condominium, the same place they have called home for years — including the school year in question.

But court records and an attorney handling the breach of contract case say an investigation — triggered by an anonymous complaint to the school — showed the family was staying at a residence in Austin, the far West Side neighborhood that borders suburban Oak Park and the school district.

“There were two kids. They were not residents of the district, but they both went to the school,” said Loop attorney Leonard Abrams, who is handling the suit for the school district.

“I’ve had a couple [similar cases] through the years,” Abrams said. “What it is is usually the kids may be from Chicago and they would like to get a better education and for whatever reason they think they can get it at another school district.”

“But if someone wants to put a child in that school district and if they don’t live in that school district they have to pay,” Abrams said, noting Illinois law prohibits providing inaccurate residency information that allows a child to attend school tuition-free.

The Carters say Terri Shaw Carter and her mother run a day care out of the West Side address in question — so it’s a work address, not the family’s residence.

The Carters say it is frustrating because they pay property taxes — money that underwrites the local school system — on the Oak Park condo they continue to call home. They say they showed district officials the tax paperwork and phone bills to prove they live there. But their children were still shown the door.

Property records show Terri Shaw Carter is listed as the owner of the Oak Park residence.

Their son, after attending school for four years, was not allowed to graduate with his class and his transcripts remain in the district’s possession until the tuition is paid, his parents say. Without them, he cannot go to college, they say. For now he is enrolled in the federal Job Corps program, which provides everything from job training to a GED, in Mississippi. And their daughter, a sophomore in the 2009-2010 academic year, slogged her way through junior year through the Chicago Public schools system — changing schools at one point, her parents say.

Terri Shaw Carter said she did not really know how she could fight the decision.

Neither the school district spokeswoman nor the principal returned calls for comment.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • Fed up

    People falsify their residential address all the time… whether it be to vote or avoid taxes. Parents, guardians, relatives and friends compound the problem by allowing their physical residential address to be used just so their children can attend a school of their choosing for a better education. But it’s illegal. And it’s not fair to the tax payers having to pay higher property taxes for their school districts.

    I know another volunteer who has been falsifying her son’s registration by using her parent’s address (the grandparents) in Elgin when she and her son truly live in Schaumburg.

    I know a census worker that falsified her address and her children so she could get the census job while her children attend school under a relatives address, even though they reside in Schaumburg.

    It’s up to the school administration to verify the registration of the child by the parent, guardian or relative. Non-residents that falsify their addresses should be fined, prosecuted and serve jail, and give honest tax payers a break.

  • Andrea

    Community colleges face a similar situation. Some students claim to live in a suburban district so they can pay in-district rates, but they really live in Chicago and commute from there. They use a relative’s address and/or have a utility bill in their name at that address to “prove” that they live inside the district. I had met quite a few Chicagoans who pretended to be suburbanites at a southwest suburban community college, and it’s probably the same all over.

  • M. Jones

    So what? People are trying to get a good education. The *real* problem is that property taxes determine education. Hence affluent areas have good school districts, poor areas have bad school districts. This should change. No matter where you live in America, if you are a citizen you should be able to acquire a good education.

  • Educate1

    We have this problem in Northwest Indiana with Illinois people bringing there kids into the districts. Unfortunately, they are the ones who’s education reading levels do not reflect the grade that they are in and/or have been expelled for violence and behavior problems. They are dropping them off at the bus stop and using a relative’s address, but yet are still driving with Illinois plates. This is all races who are doing this, not just blacks.

    It’s time to bring back the “residency check person” who acutally goes to the residence to verify that you live there.. They do it in Munster Indiana and do not have those residency problems.

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