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Maryland and Virginia residents sometimes think they have an automatic right to take advantage of D.C. services, even its lousy schools. So it’s good to know the council has put it on a front burner.

Mr. Brown came into office in January with a promise to go after money that should be coming in to many agencies of the D.C. government, and the fraud prevention measure is a means to that end.

But he still should beware: The funding-first crowd will try to distract.

“We don’t have enough staff,” they’ll say. “We have not yet let a contract to do the math,” will be another oft-used but unjustifiable excuse.

The school system lays out clear guidelines for proving residency, and while those guidelines are lax, toughening them is not the issue at hand.

The point of the Student Residency Fraud Prevention act is to prevent further fraud and abuse.

Tightening residency guidelines is the next logical legislative action.

It’s that simple — for now.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at