Lafayette Parish School Scandal—Parents Lying About Address to ‘Pick School’
Lafayette Parish is growing rapidly, posing a unique set of challenges for the school board. They are always working to ensure schools have all the tools they need to provide the highest level of education possible.
One of the biggest obstacles that LPSS faces is parents misrepresenting where they live so their children can go to a specific public school of their choice, which is certainly a tale as old as time itself.
We sat down with members of the Lafayette Parish School Board to get the full scoop to better inform parents on the reason for the policies in place and how ignoring them affects accessibility to resources and proper education.
Fortunately, Lafayette Parish does not have any schools that qualify as "failing," however that doesn't stop some parents that are still left unsatisfied with the schools they are zoned for.
How is this even happening? Aren't there residency regulations in place?
Every year, LPPS requests proof of residency. This seems as simple enough, right? Produce the documents noted in the LPSS Proof of Domicile requirements and your child is good to go.
LPSS is well aware that some parents will manufacture or falsify documents in order to get their kids into a specific public school that they are not zoned for, which is why some schools require secondary proof of domicile.
While it is tricky to prove residence in a place where you don't actually live, it doesn't mean it's impossible.
Allegedly, some parents with children who attend Milton Elementary School have taken over utility services for families or individuals who actually live in that school district, not only paying the bill but literally swapping their names to appear on the actual account.
This way, they are technically compliant with the proof of domicile requirements from LPSS for the school they desire despite the fact that they don't actually reside in the proper district.
A member of the school board shared that the straw that broke the camel's back at Milton Elementary was actually an incident that took place in the dreaded car line. Parents had already begun to question why their car line was so much longer than other schools.
One day, things hit a fever pitch in the infamous Milton Elementary car line when one parent cut the line. *Gasp* right? Imagine leaving work to get in the car line early and then someone shows up right at the last bell and cuts in front of you.
Well, on that particular day, the Milton Elementary principal just happened to be present and as other parents were visibly upset, they motioned for the rude parent to pull over in order to inform them that they needed to get in line like the rest of the parents.
As the principal engaged with the line-violating parent, things escalated to a point where the school leader had to actually run their plates. It was then that the principal found out that the parent who cut the line was actually not even zoned for Milton Elementary and it was subsequently realized that documents had been falsified in order for their child to attend the school in the first place.
But we're not picking on Milton or suggesting that this is only limited to a few schools. According to school board members, faculty members, and many LPSS parents, this is something that happens throughout the school system.
One source informed us that it is believed that there are close to 300 students in attendance at Southside High who are not zoned for that school.
The consequence of overpopulated schools is something no one wants for their children, especially if they have attended the same school for several years. According to LPPS, more rezoning is likely coming with 10 Lafayette Parish schools hitting their capacity.
To put it simply, the numbers aren't adding up.
More seats are being filled in these schools—and without the tax dollars to match they are quickly running out of options. When the data used to predict how many students would be in attendance at any particular school began to conflict with the actual number of students filling the desks, LPSS knew they had a problem.
The numbers they use prior to the school year are based on housing records. Not only are students attending some schools from outside of their zoned district, but in many cases, some are coming from parishes outside of the Lafayette Parish School System.
As I said earlier, this isn't anything new and there will always be people who manage to find a way to slip through the cracks of required documents to attend the schools they want their kids in, but LPSS says this issue has gone far beyond simply denying a parent's "preference."
The overall goal of the policies from the Lafayette Parish Public School System is to simply "verify that people live where they say they live so we can better serve them." LPSS chooses to see this scenario as less of a problem and more of "a really great challenge" to ensure all students are getting the best education possible.
How do you feel about people who are gaming the system to get their kids into schools they aren't zoned for? For some, it may not be an issue, but for others, it has presented challenges that affect their children and the schools that some families have literally moved to be properly zoned for.
Sound off in the comments and give us your thoughts.