- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2004

Montgomery County public schools officials said yesterday that 63 high school students had not verified their residence, but that number was reduced from about 3,300 earlier this summer.

The students have been allowed to attend classes since schools opened Monday. However, officials are going door to door to resolve the remaining problems.

“Workers are going each day to the homes,” said Laura Steinberg, the county school system’s director of reporting and regulatory accountability.

There has been an increased effort to verify the residence of students entering the system’s 24 high schools to stop nonresidents from enrolling in the county schools without paying as much as $10,000 a year in tuition.

Meanwhile, SAT reading and mathematics test results released Tuesday showed Montgomery and Fairfax county students are among the best-prepared for college in the area.

Montgomery County students scored a combined 1,102 on the math and verbal tests and Fairfax County students scored 1,105, compared with the national average of 1,026.

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said on opening day that fewer than 100 students had not verified their address but that he was encouraged by the progress.

That number was reduced to 78 at the close of the first day, then to 72 on Tuesday.

Students who cannot prove they live in the county will be barred from attending classes or must pay the tuition, officials said.

The county’s Board of Education approved mandatory proof of residence and on March 31 sent letters to parents and guardians. Follow-up letters, translated into five languages, were sent in May, June and July.

By August, about 250 of the incoming 11,000 ninth graders had not verified their addresses.

Kate Harrison, a spokeswoman for county public schools, said officials were prepared on the first day of school for some students still not having proof of residence.

For example, staffers were trained to again advise students, parents and guardians about the need to verify their address and to tell them that a copy of a property tax bill, lease, car registration, pay stub, bank statement, phone or utility bill was acceptable proof.

The county has a significant immigrant population, including public school students from 160 countries speaking 123 different languages.

School officials have assured parents and guardians that the addresses of illegal-immigrant students would not be turned over to federal authorities.

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