WASHINGTON - An audit by the District’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has found more than a quarter of students at the highly-regarded Duke Ellington School of the Arts are not D.C. residents and are not paying tuition as legally required.
The agency said it conducted the investigation of the school as part of an increased focus on residency fraud.
“OSSE’s investigation revealed significant and systemic issues of non-compliance with the requirements of residency verification at Ellington,” the report stated. “Based on this investigation, OSSE has deemed a total of 164 of the 570 investigated students to be non-residents, without tuition agreements in place. A total of 56 students remain under investigation, as the information obtained about their actual place of residence is thus far inconclusive. An additional 46 students were found to be non-residents with existing tuition agreements with the District. A total of 304 students were confirmed as DC residents.”
OSSE found in their investigation of enrollment forms, student files and electronic records that there were several trends involving the 164 non-resident students, which included families providing falsified documents, residency forms that showed parents and guardians did not have any connection to the addresses that were listed and listing D.C. addresses that belonged to extended family members.
Families who live in Maryland and Virginia are allowed to submit applications for their children to attend D.C. Public Schools, but they are required to pay tuition.
The agency said is referring the cases of 164 non-resident students to the Office of the Attorney General and it will follow up with the families of the 56 students still under investigation.
“OSSE is also issuing a corrective action plan to DCPS and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, which will require improved internal controls, training, and a plan for staff independent of Ellington to oversee residency verification and enrollment for the 2018-19 school year, in addition to requiring verification of 100 percent of all residency documentation at Ellington for the next five years at the time of the annual enrollment audit,” the report said.