- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 15, 2004

More than 60 Montgomery County high school freshmen, who have failed to verify residence after several deadlines, continue to take classes, despite warnings that they either will have to pay tuition or enroll elsewhere.

“We are being patient,” said Kate Harrison, a county public schools spokeswoman. “We certainly do not want to turn away anyone who needs an education. We realize there are families who need extra assistance to satisfy this requirement.”

School officials started requesting proof of residence in March and said those who failed to provide the information by June would have to pay as much as $10,000 a year in tuition or not be allowed to attend classes.

The decision to allow students to continue to attend classes is a departure from a statement in June by Anita Mostow, the school system’s residency-compliance coordinator, who said incoming freshmen without proof of residence would have their records withheld and would not receive their schedules.

The new policy follows concerns that a large number of students from surrounding jurisdictions were attending county public schools, which are among the best in the metropolitan area.

The school system has about 11,000 ninth-graders attending 24 high schools. Officials said about 3,300 of them missed the June deadline, but that the number had been reduced to 78 on the first day of school, Aug. 30. The number was further reduced to 63 in the last few weeks.

Mrs. Harrison said it is uncertain how much longer those students will be allowed to attend classes, but official enrollment records will be completed near the end of the month.

School officials said earlier this month they would send workers to homes to get tax and utility bills, lease agreements or other documents to prove residency. However, many of the families are immigrants who do not speak English and are having problems providing the basic information.

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