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Double standard for residency

Original post made by Anonymous, Barron Park, on Aug 18, 2006

This year, my family had to jump through a lot of hoops in order to prove that we are indeed residents of PAUSD. I was asked to present my car registration, bank statements, mortgage statements, etc. Every time I complied with a request for information, there was a new request. Now things should be OK (though I don't want to give my name for fear of retaliation). But yesterday I learned of another family that is here illegally from Mexico. They got in PAUSD without any scrutiny. Apparently the school board has a policy where it will look the other way if a student or his family is an illegal alien. But for those of us who are U.S. citizens, we have to jump through hoops. How unfair! Yet nobody will complain because we don't want the district to find some excuse to kick our kids out or make them go to a school in another neighborhood. In the next school board election, I intend to ask the candidates about this double standard -- and vote for those who feel all families should be treated the same when it comes to residency.

Comments (20)

Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2006 at 6:22 pm

You allege double standard without any proof, just that you learned... How can you be sure that this family you are talking about is here illegally? How can you be sure the school district knows?

It's not like illegals go about telling everyone they are illegal! How would you know?

Posted by Henry Ramos
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 19, 2006 at 1:30 am

federal law prevents schools from asking parents or children about their immigration status so it's entirely possible that the district, fearing lawsuits, would take a "hands off" approach to those believed to be illegals. however, there's nothing stopping the district from hounding those who wouldn't fall into the illegal category.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2006 at 11:55 am

Combined with the stupid refusal to sunset the Tinsley monstrosity, there is reason to turn the whole operation over to Mountain View.

Posted by DJ
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2006 at 8:54 pm

I am sorry that you had to go through the 'levels' of proving that you are indeed a resident of PAUSD- I for once feel that school district did its job! I am for submitting the proof of residency every year .. it will weed out the fake residents. We all know we pay a premium to get the benefits of PAUSD ( how can we forget the atrocious home prices and the property taxes ). People pay even more in terms to be in certain areas/certain school ... and then there are these residents who don't even live in Palo Alto, but are able to produce a lease document -- or then there are those residents who have moved away from a certain school, but still continue to go to their earlier school - probably because the school is better.

This is very unfair on the 'legal' residents of the particular school area ( note: by 'legal' I do not mean legal in terms of the alien status .. legal is more to do with the street address here ).

The latest car registration, property tax bill, bank statements - these are the documents that most people have handy. Its will be a matter of making a copy and mailing it to PAUSD. True - PAUSD will have to increase staffing to verify the documents, but it will definitely benefit the kids and the parents if they require the proof every year.

Posted by julie f.
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 20, 2006 at 10:37 am

PAUSD is rightfully cracking down on non-residents who try to get in to PA schools-- our enrollments are skyrocketing, and if we want to keep classroom sizes down we have to draw the line. So I'm GLAD you had to prove your residency. Quit beefing-- the schools are worth it.
The supposed illegal aliens you're talking about also had to prove residency. They have a right to attend schools where they live. They also pay more taxes than "legals", nationwide.

As for Walter E. Wallis-- what on earth are you talking about? Turn it over to Mountain View? Huh? You make no sense whatsoever. And Tinsley is a much-needed program that provides opportunities for a disenfranchised population-- and is really HARD for families to get into-- talk about going through hoops--

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2006 at 12:47 pm

DJ: I live in PA but don't pay property taxes here. Does that mean my kids should not qualify for public school here? PAUSD has never given me trouble, but I keep hearing this a lot, making me feel we are some kind of outlaws. Where does it say that only property tax payers are eligible? And what does high property prices have to do with it? Do you mean that towns with less tax revenue should be more lax?

Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 20, 2006 at 3:36 pm

Calm down, Anonymous. If you live in Palo Alto, then someone is paying property tax on the apartment/house you are renting. Even though you are not paying the tax, you receive the benefit to send your kid(s) to Palo Alto school(s) because you actually live here.

Posted by DJ
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 20, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Anonymous .. calm down ! I said 'legal' residents of PA .. and pointed out that I don't mean legal in terms of the alien status. If you are renting in PA .. be it an apartment or a house, you are definitely eligible to send your kids to the school district.

I would like to see the non residents of PA not get the same benefits like the residents of PA. We do pay a premium to stay in this town and we ought to get full benefits. There are kids who are being shipped to another school since their neighborhood schools are full - if one of the spots is taken by a child who is not quite eligible to be in that particular school, don't you think its unfair on the child who is being shipped off to another school?

re: your question 'what does high property prices have to do with it' -- well the property tax is based on the property price and a part of the tax goes towards the schools .. so higher the property taxes, the more money schools are going to get - which results in better facilities for the kids ... its a circle !

Posted by Cathy
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 20, 2006 at 9:38 pm

Anon is correct. PAUSD has a case of reverse racism, but so do many people in PA.
The fact is, PAUSD will continue getting away with treating extremely rich people well, and a few token poor people (illegals included) well, and everyone else like garbage until they get sued. And they won't feel bad about treating the children of hardworking people badly because PAUSD justifies that they let the illegals in.
The language of lawyers is all they understand...which is sad, because PAUSD should care about serving all the children of PA, not just select few.

Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2006 at 11:22 am

Sorry, I did not want to put in a name in order to remain anonymous on this post.

I saw someone today at school who I know is here illegally, but I also know that the children are citizens and that the family lives and works in Palo Alto, and that they pay taxes here. Regardless of how anyone feels about the parents situation, their legal status does not mean the children cannot attend school here, it only means they must attend school in the district where they reside, which is Palo Alto.

We went through a horrendous grilling over our residency, too -- we had to bring in work pay stubs, property tax bills (more than one), car registrations, etc., and we were also told on later dates that we had to bring in other things, so I appreciate Skeptic's original remarks. The district was so overwhelmed, I would not be surprised if some kids who live in the district were not able to attend school the first day because of difficulty fulfilling all the registration requirements.

That said, if the person she is mentioning who is working her illegally does live in Palo Alto, their children are in our district and can go to school here. They may not have the same kind of paperwork to prove that they live here, but I guarantee the district is not looking the other way -- they are just using other means to make sure that person lives here.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 21, 2006 at 2:04 pm

I believe Palo Alto's voluntary acquiescence to the unconstitutional Tinsley agreement has done more harm all the way around. It has gutted the Ravenswood school district by stripping away the more dedicated students who vitalize any classroom. It has cost us the equivalent of one whole school, it has denied East Palo Alto a High School of their own, but mainly it has perpetuated the fiction that it is the schools rather than the students who make Palo Alto schools what they are.

Posted by Waheeda Khalfan
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 21, 2006 at 5:53 pm

As a new resident of Palo Alto, I thought I could tell you my experience. When we registered our son two months ago at the PAUSD office, we were pleasantly surprised that we only needed two pieces of documentation to establish proof of residency --our apartment lease and a letter showing we had a local bank account with the same address. In contrast, when we lived in Ann Arbor Michigan, we had to supply a gas bill and a water bill tied to our property, as well as a third piece of documentation (I think our mortgage papers)-so we thought the PAUSD process was very reasonable.

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 21, 2006 at 9:38 pm

well I'm glad Waheeda had no problems. We, on the other hand, had to supply PAUSD w/ all the documentation that anon described AND get it notorized.
Perhaps it depends on the school your child is attending. Those children attending the more 'desirable' schools, and from families PAUSD assumes can't afford lawyers, get put through the ringer.

Posted by Peter D.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2006 at 8:22 pm

In addition to illegal aliens, another group of non-Palo Alto students who aren't harrassed over residency are the kids of PAUSD employees. They get to attend whatever school they want, taking seats that could have gone to neighborhood children who are forced to go to another school. Nobody talks about this subject, certainly not the employees. During the last election, the district didn't even know how many district kids were in the schools -- about 100 they figured.

Posted by ipaymorethanmyshare
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 23, 2006 at 4:13 am

I bet that the district NEVER asks the kids of suspected illegal aliens for proof of residency. Why? Because merely asking would invite a lawsuit. The district wouldn't want to be accused of harassing these poor, downtroden immigrants.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2006 at 11:28 am

Peter D states that children of PAUSD employees are "...taking seats that could have gone to neighborhood children who are forced to go to another school." I'm curious if folks generally feel that this is unfair.

I assume most of these employees -- including the teachers of these same Palo Alto children -- can't afford to live in a Palo Alto neighborhood. Is it a reasonable job benefit, incentivizing good teachers, that they at least be able to bring their own children to these ostensibly superior schools?

I'm also curious, what percentage of Palo Alto children are not able to go to their nearest neighbrhood school?

Posted by Mayfield child
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 26, 2006 at 1:38 am

I grew up here in Palo Alto and went through the K-12 school system.........that was starting in the early 1950's....

I had no idea then that the district was so rich (and now is even more so)...until I started mingling outside of Palo Alto and was to overhear others commenting on how "stuck up" people in Palo Alto were, thinking that we were better than they were just because of the money..........WHAT money! Back in the '50's, my father was a fireman, hard working. My father got sick with TB and had to quit....My mother finally landed a job at a little known start up company, H.P....(she saved our home.) Hard work and many years later they were comfortable, but the lean years meant nothing to me, I was just a kid.........

Happy kid, I had crayolas, ate graham crackers with milk for snack at school everyday with all the other kids in my 1st through 6th grade homerooms...Bank of America even provided envelopes for us starting in first grade so that the teacher could collect our little bank books with our money in it to deposit down the street...some weeks it would only be 50 cents, but by the time I left grade school, I had learned a savings routine and had a little plump account going for myself..............I can not remember any other school district doing this that I ever heard about.

We were bused on MANY field trips here and there- still remember the bus drivers name~ MARSHALL~ . He was a character and we all had a lot of respect for him.....From what I hear now days, field trips are pretty rare..(and THAT was before the gas prices ever started don't use that as an excuse.) So sorry that more of them are not scheduled for all children in ALL districts. The experience should not be missed. (Where is all that LOTTERY money, anyway???)

I feel a sense of terrible guilt that ALL children in ALL districts are not guaranteed an EQUAL education........down to the crayolas............

We all breath the same air, just some inhale deeper than others.....

a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 29, 2006 at 4:58 pm

It does seem very peculiar to me that property owners have to provide more documentation than renters. If you have a property tax bill that means you own a property in Palo Alto and have a government document that shows you are paying taxes which will go to the school district. Anyone can fake a lease and provide a bogus landlord name and phone number by asking a friend or family member to vouch for you. A current utility bill and car registration should be required of these residents as well and should be required every year. I fail to see how requiring these documents from everyone regardless of their status as citizen or non-citizen would trigger a lawsuit. You can have a lease, utility bill, and car registration regardless of whether or not you are "legal" or "illegal"

Posted by George
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 31, 2006 at 5:56 am

George is a registered user.

If the purpose of residency requirements is to prove that a family has paid local taxes (either directly as property owners or indirectly as renters), and admission to school is contingent on proof of payment, and payments are quite high in this particular district (which everyone assumes correlates with the quality of the schools): how is our system any different from a private school system? You could even argue that the preferential treatment for district employees is analogous to the tuition waivers most private schools give to the children of faculty.
Wouldn't it be easier and more rational to scrap the entire school district bureaucracy, return the district taxes to the people, and let them buy education on the open market? Then residency wouldn't matter, and "your papers, please" (and inconsistent enforcement) would not be such a big part of the enrollment process.

Posted by another anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 10, 2006 at 6:32 pm

Under our current system of schools/school funding in California, the school district should check up on those sending their kids to the district's schools to make sure they are at least residents here. If you consider various funding inequalities and want to change the system, I am actually OK with that, but as it stands, we residents pay horrendously high taxes (I mean those of us who are newer residents in P.A.) and it is not welcome that some are not making any payments to support the schools. There certainly appear to be people who don't live here but benefit from the PAUSD education, and I am not even speaking about any illegal aliens. Usually there are clues (own two properties, never there, never answer the phone, won't say where they live, etc.) Other school districts like Fremont Unified High School District (covers Monte Vista, Lynbrook, Homestead, etc. - various cities) are taking this seriously and investingating suspect cases.

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