D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced on Wednesday he is suing seven people in three families for school residency fraud and is seeking over $700,000 in unpaid tuition, damages and fines.
The lawsuits against the seven adults claims that they falsified D.C. residency in order to send their children to D.C. Public Schools for free. D.C. law states that children who live outside the District cannot attend DCPS without paying the required out-of-state tuition.
Tuition usually costs between $10,000 to $14,000 per year. However, most non-resident students aren't admitted to DCPS because of school waiting lists.
In one case, Racine claims one parent committed additional fraud to receive public benefits payments.
One of the people being sued is a former DCPS employee, and two are current D.C. Public Charter School employees.
According to a news release, the families being charged reside in Maryland and lied on annual residency verification forms.
The families sued include:
- April and Nicholas Fennell of Oxon Hill are accused of claiming they lived in D.C. when they sent their three children to Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School and the now-closed Potomac Preparatory Public Charter School for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Nicholas Fennell worked at the Phelps school at the time, Racine’s office said. The lawsuit seeks a total of $233,944.
- Chantese and James Alston are accused of claiming they lived in D.C. between 2009 and 2015, when they sent their children to Maury Elementary School and the D.C. charter schools Parkside Middle School and Shining Stars Montessori School. Chantese Alston now lives in D.C. James Alston has also been accused of falsely claiming to live in D.C. in order to get Medicaid and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits. The city is looking for a total of $391,000.
- Asaki and Rashidat Shittu, sisters who live in Hyattsville, Maryland, are accused of using their father Rasaki Shittu's D.C. address to enroll their children at Noyes Education Campus in Brookland — where Asaki Shittu worked — between 2010 and 2014. D.C. is looking for more than $66,000 from Asaki and Rasaki Shittu, and $14,950 from Rashidat Shittu.
This is not the first case for Racine. In February, he sued four Maryland parents and one DCPS employee for participating in residency fraud. He sued for more than $450,000, which includes tuition costs and fines.
In December, Racine sued six Maryland parents for residency fraud. Racine sued for $700,000 in tuition and damages and $450,000 in penalties.
“Residency fraud not only cheats our taxpayers, but it also hurts District children who play by the rules, and frequently rely on the school lottery process to attend the schools of their choice,” Racine said in a news release. “Our office will continue to bring actions against any individuals who try to fraudulently take advantage of free schooling for District students.”