Residency detail at H-F High may get outside help

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Residency detail at H-F High may get outside help

November 14, 2020 - 20:18

Homewood-Flossmoor High School is a destination school for many moving into District 233. Residency violations are an ongoing issue. The school board may consider hiring additional help to follow up on reports of students who don’t live in the district.

Bill Mercer of Chicagoland Investigative Services made a presentation to the board’s Finance Committee on Nov. 10. He said his firm does residency checks for a number of school districts but he was well aware of H-F’s in-house efforts. 

The Residency Verification Program is more than 25 years old. Superintendent Von Mansfield said residency investigations are handled by an in-house team made up of members of the district’s security detail. He said despite students not being in the building this semester, investigators have already done 73 residency checks.

H-F’s registration system has every parent or guardian meet with a member of the Residency Office who verifies addresses using identification, as well as utility bills, mortgage papers or signed lease, vehicle registration or insurance policy, as proof the student’s family or guardian is living within the boundaries of Homewood and Flossmoor and areas of Hazel Crest, Chicago Heights and Olympia Fields.

Mansfield said mandating that registrants meet with a residency team representative oftentimes is a successful way of weeding out those who don’t live in District 233. If the registrant doesn’t have the proper form of identification he or she is encouraged to return with it, but they generally don’t. 

There is an appeal process that allows parents or guardians to state their case to the principal, then the superintendent and finally the school board. Mansfield said the district builds a strong case that can stand up in court before it steps in on residency violations. 

Business manager Lawrence Cook recalled that when he served as associate principal and ran the program, 50 to 100 cases that were investigated never made it to the hearing stage. Those that lose their appeal are required to pay tuition, which is now more than $9,000 a semester.

Today Associate Principal Craig Fantin is responsible for the program. He said H-F investigators are already using some of Chicagoland Investigative Services techniques, but he said the company did have some unique services. He said it would be helpful to have "more eyes and bodies available to supplement" H-F's current efforts.

The Finance Committee recommended Chicagoland Investigative Services meet with the superintendent and Fantin to glean what services H-F could use and prepare a formal proposal for the school board’s consideration.