- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It has been an inside joke since the 1960s and ‘70s. What do parents do when their children are prepubescent? Move to Maryland or Virginia.

Two decades later the chuckles came when someone asked, “What do D.C. school employees do when the 3 o’clock bell rings?” Drive home to Maryland and Virginia to cook supper and help their kids with homework.


SEE ALSO: Parents who sent kids to D.C. schools illegally face thousands of dollars in fines


Here’s another. How can you tell if a D.C. student or a child does not live in the District? Look for the Maryland or Virginia tags on the parents’ car.

Well, glory to D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, whose praiseworthy office busted a family who illegally sent their children to D.C. Public Schools and did not pay tuition — for an entire decade.



D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck put the parents on the hook for $539,000 for violating the D.C. False Claims Act and other infractions.


SEE ALSO: Marilyn Mosby never should have charged officers in Freddie Gray death, lawyers say


How they did it was readily explained Thursday by Mr. Racine. Why they did it is easily understood, as well.

The kids’ parents, Alan and Candace Hill, lived in homes in Maryland and Virginia while “providing a false D.C. address — the address for an apartment unit that Alan Hill rented out to tenants — on enrollment forms they submitted to DCPS,” Mr. Racine said.

Yet, interestingly, the Hills chose some of the top academic schools in the city — Eaton Elementary, Deal Middle and Wilson High schools.

Parents across the city wished they were so blessed. Indeed, D.C. officials are so keenly aware of the long-standing academic successes of the feeder schools that they changed the boundary rules and created legacy and lottery rules for student populations.

So much for honest to goodness school choice, eh?

Now, you want to offer comparisons with a certain mom in Akron, Ohio, who was convicted of two felonies for falsifying documents so her teenage daughters could attend a better public school. The mom, Kelly Williams-Bolar, used their grandfather’s address. She was arrested, charged, convicted and locked up.

Fortunately, Ohio Gov. John Kasich used his executive authority to bust the felonies down to misdemeanors, calling the penalties “excessive for the offense.” Mr. Kasich also rightly characterized it as not “a pass,” but “a second chance.”

The Hills, meanwhile, are getting a fourth chance, having gamed the system three times and escaped criminal charges.

Perhaps at some point several lawful options should have occurred to them, chief among abiding by the law (or at least use the rent money and their incomes to help pay tuition).

They also could have moved to the nation’s capital.

What’s most telling is that the Hills are D.C. police officials, he a lieutenant and she a sergeant. And they enrolled their kids near their station house in the Cleveland Park area. And the spots given to their children meant actual D.C. children went without.

Two-dozen bad parents or families have been nabbed for ripping off DCPS since 2012, Mr. Racine said. There are others out there, too. (I’ve been egged on to visit Wilson, where I’m told teens hop into their rides after sports practice and held straight into Montgomery County. Tsk, tsk, tsk.)

With the city’s public schools still failing to rank on the top rungs of the academic ladder after various “reform” efforts, the Hills’ case and the others like them would be laughable if they weren’t so detrimental.

At any rate, as the saying goes, “If you see something, say something.”

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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