The Central School Board on Monday advanced a plan to tighten yet again the requirements for people trying to prove residency in the popular Central school district.
The proposal would mean the school system would no longer accept a Louisiana ID card in lieu of a state driver’s license. And, the district would codify the school system’s practice of not accepting students who relocate to Central via the transfer of custody, just for the purposes of their education, to someone else.
Central has steadily grown in the eight years since it broke away from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system to form its own independent public school district.
On Monday, Central reported 4,681 students, some 100-plus students above the enrollment on Feb. 1, the state’s last official enrollment count. Three of Central’s five schools have more than 1,000 students, with Central High leading the way with 1,377 students.
With that popularity has come a regular supply of families who “zone jump” to get their kids into Central schools even though they live elsewhere.
In spring 2014, after months of debate, the Central School Board tightened its requirements, including annual lease validation and limiting out-of-district enrollment to only full-time school employees.
Superintendent Michael Faulk said his latest proposals came about after Robert Williams, Central’s director of student services, recently went on sick leave. Faulk has taken over Williams’ duties while he recovers and it’s prompted him to rethink the district’s residency policy.
The most consequential proposal is to eliminate the acceptance of state-issued IDs rather than driver’s licenses. Faulk said the IDs don’t prove residency.
“The person does not have to provide any evidence that they have to live at the address they want on their ID,” Faulk said.
“I had one instance where a woman came in with two state IDs with two different addresses and she expected me to enroll her kid,” Faulk added.
After the meeting, Faulk said he would work on a case-by-case basis with those who don’t have a driver’s license but can otherwise show their residency in Central.
Another change would end the use of “educational custody” transfers, using what is known as a “provisional custody by mandate.” The only custody changes that would be accepted would be ones ordered by a court, Faulk said.
“Anyone can go to a lawyer anywhere and get a provisional custody by mandate for education,” Faulk said. “Mr. Williams was not accepting them, but I want to put it in writing.”
Another change to the policy would specify that utility disconnect notices can’t be used as evidence of residency.
“We’ve had people come with disconnect notices,” Faulk said. “They claim that these are their utility bills.”