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Do Pasco County students really live at their address on file? The schools are starting to check.

Parents began calling for address verification as a contentious rezoning proposal surfaced in 2016.
Pasco County School Board member Colleen Beaudoin
Pasco County School Board member Colleen Beaudoin
Published May 30, 2018
Updated May 30, 2018

Pasco County school district officials have stepped up their efforts to make sure students are attending the school they're actually zoned for, with a stricter address verification process.

Though helpful in rooting out families providing false information, the initiative is not discovering enough of them to make attendance zone changes unneeded, leaders said.

"Address verification doesn't negate the need to rezone," district planning director Chris Williams told the School Board recently.

Many west-side parents have demanded the records check since 2016, contending it would turn up hundreds of "liars" and "cheats" whose presence is crowding out children who live in the zones.

Related: Parents ask district to weed out kids attending incorrect schools, prior to rezoning 

They argued that new attendance maps for Mitchell High and Seven Springs Middle, approved May 29, could be avoided if the district would force out students attending with addresses where they don't live.

In fact, the address review yielded 50 students at Mitchell and 53 at Seven Springs that had questionable information on file, assistant superintendent Betsy Kuhn said.

The district sent letters to the parents seeking more details, as the review only raised questions. It did not provide answers.

At Mitchell, 22 of the 50 provided proof they lived in the zone, Kuhn said. Two more graduated in the spring, one withdrew and four transferred out.

"We're down to 21 students in the Mitchell zone, and that's less than 1 percent," Kuhn said.

Seven Springs had slightly different results.

Of 53 families, nine returned to their correct schools, Kuhn said, and five provided documentation to stay. Thirty-nine had yet to respond, and the school is looking to get the information or take action to move the children.

In each case, though, Kuhn noted the numbers were not high enough to ease crowding significantly.

Even so, board member Colleen Beaudoin said the approach is important to show parents the district takes their concerns seriously.

"I would like to see staff continue with address verification" across the district, she said.

Related: Pasco County school district sets new student registration rules