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Hinsdale District 86 hires investigations firm to verify student residency

Hinsdale High School District 86 administration building.
Hinsdale High School District 86 administration building.

Hinsdale High School District 86 has hired a security firm to verify enrolled students live in the district.

Other families may want to send their children to District 86 due to the academic achievement of its students and the quality of its teachers and programs, Superintendent Bruce Law said.

However, the district has an obligation to its taxpayers to make sure their taxes are used to educate only the students who live within Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South’s boundaries, Law said.

Extra students may require the hiring of more teachers.

“With course registration upon us, we are aggressively moving forward to ensure that the tallies we use to determine the number of teachers we need for the 2014-15 school year are based on students who verifiably live in the district’s attendance area,” Law wrote in a Dec. 16 memo to the School Board.

The board approved hiring American Heritage Protective Services to conduct residency investigations for a cost not to exceed $27,500.

District staff already has checked addresses in the schools’ student information system with other databases and uncovered 475 discrepancies. Further checking determined 101 of those cases warrant further investigation, American Heritage Executive Vice President Stephen Pollak said.

The district’s next steps will be to send certified letters to families whose residency is in question and ask them to provide proof, Law said.

If they do not provide that proof, more intensive investigation would follow, Law said.

If it’s determined that a student outside the district has been attending Hinsdale South or Central as a resident, the district can charge the parent or guardian out-of-state tuition.

“There is a serious problem it appears,” School Board member Richard Skoda said.

South checked student residency only freshmen year, and Central did not check at all, Skoda said.

Administrators previously said the residency of incoming freshmen was checked each year.

Going forward, the district will require proof of residency from all students before they register for the 2014-15 school year.

Knowing schools are checking residency may deter non-residents from trying to enroll, Pollak said.

“We tend to become victims of our own success. As we conduct our business, it goes down to virtually nothing,” Pollak said.

Jason Yeggy, who is a salesman for American Heritage, is the son of District 86’s interim business manager Gary Yeggy.

Gary Yeggy said Law had asked him if he knew any firms that conducted residency checks and he told him the school district in Niles where he used to work used American Heritage. Yeggy said he also told Law his son worked for the company. Law said Jason Yeggy would not work for the district.

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