Pascagoula and Gautier will fine residency misrepresentation - - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula and Gautier will fine residency misrepresentation


By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Fines are on the way for parents who send their children to Pascagoula schools, but live outside the district.  The Pascagoula and Gautier city councils both unanimously passed ordinances Tuesday night that would make it a misdemeanor for parents to send their children across school district lines.

The Pascagoula School District welcomes 7,000 students into its schools each day.  But administrators said they recently discovered an overwhelming number of those students don't live in the school district.

"As of today, we've probably made over 750 home visits related to residency," said Student Services Director Bernard Rogers.  "And of that number, we have moved about 214 students from the district who actually live in other districts."

The numbers shocked Rogers and Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich.  The realization led them to ask the Pascagoula and Gautier city councils to pass ordinances that would impose fines on parents caught misrepresenting residency.  Their reasoning is that out-of-district families don't pay taxes to support Pascagoula schools.

"That impacts our bottom line on the services that we can provide for the students in Pascagoula and Gautier," said Rodolfich.  "It increases your teacher/student ratios.  It takes up valuable teacher time for the children within this school district."

Crossing district lines was already prohibited, but Rodolfich said until Tuesday, there was no penalty other than removing the student from the school.  The superintendent said he hopes the fine will keep parents from ignoring the rule.

"I want every child in every community to get the best education," said Rodolfich.  "But if people don't feel like they're getting the best education in surrounding areas, they need to hold their school district accountable for that. and we're going to be held accountable in our district."

Rogers said students who live outside the district can attend Pascagoula or Gautier's schools if their parents work in the district, on a case-by-case basis.  Those cases are reviewed by the school board.

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