Lincoln School Committee addresses potential residency issues

Lincoln School Committee addresses potential residency issues

LINCOLN – The Lincoln School District is impressive in many ways. The district has a small teacher-to-student ratio, well-trained teachers, and in 2016, it was presented an award that only 10 percent of schools in the nation receive, a silver medal by United States New & World Report, which ranks the top high schools throughout the country.

Lincoln High School may seem even more attractive, now that the $60 million renovation project has received voter approval. It’s no wonder that many students want to attend this school, but Joseph Richardson, the residency truancy officer for the Lincoln School District, has a job to do.

“Lincoln is rated as such a good school system, people move to Lincoln for that reason. People try to stay in Lincoln for that reason,” Richardson said. “I believe it behooves the town, and listening to members of the School Committee, they certainly expressed that. It’s incumbent upon me to do a thorough job.”

Currently, as of Monday, Nov. 20, Richardson has conducted 78 residency checks for the 2017-2018 school year. Sixty-six of the residencies were confirmed, while eight students were pulled out of the Lincoln school system due to residency issues. Three of the residency cases are still under investigation, Richardson said.

At the Wednesday, Nov. 15, School Committee meeting, Richardson gave a presentation on the steps he is taking to ensure that students who are not residents of Lincoln do not attend the schools, or are withdrawn from the Lincoln schools. Richardson gave a presentation at the request of committee member John Picozzi, said Joseph Goho, vice chair of the Lincoln School Committee.

“I would like my Residency Officer to withdraw any student in our system who doesn’t belong there,” Picozzi said in an email to The Valley Breeze. “For example, for students who actually reside in Pawtucket and who should be attending Pawtucket Public Schools but provided us a Lincoln address under false pretenses should not be in our system. It’s not fair to our students, teachers, and taxpayers.”

The amount of state aid a school district receives is based on the number of students enrolled in the district. For example if a school district withdraws 10 students due to residency issues and each student brings in around $15 thousand, the following school year because of the lower enrollment, the district has less state aid. However, the Lincoln School District would rather have less state aid than students who are not supposed to attend the Lincoln schools, Goho said.

“We wanted to make it very clear to the truant officer that we appreciate how thorough he is and from our perspective, we want him to be aggressive, regardless of the funding impact,” he said. “The only people who attend our school are the people who are legally able to do so.”

Richardson said that the application process to register a student into the Lincoln school system is very proactive in making sure that the students who attend the school are from the town of Lincoln. The applications help the district to weed out most of the non-resident students before they become a problem, he said.

Although Richardson attends registration sessions, he said that making sure that non-residents do not attend Lincoln schools is a full-team effort from the secretaries at the school to tips from community members. To further make the reports a team effort, Goho requested that the committee explore a possible e-communication service for community members to report suspected residency violations, Richardson said.

As of Friday, Nov. 17, a Google Forum to report suspected residency issues is now included on the “school registration” page of the Lincoln School District website, Those who fill out the forum may stay anonymous if they would like, but they can also give their contact information if the school may contact them with any questions or need for further information. The forum requests the student’s name, grade, address, their family’s vehicle information, and any additional information they may want to report.