As shown in the following graphic & table, all of our elementary/middle school sites fall far short of meeting the minimum state guidelines regarding total acreage for the applicable number of students. Each rectangle represents .2 acres. The yellow rectangles portray what we have now at our average elementary/middle school. The blue reactangles portray what we need to meet state guidelines for the number of students that we are now cramming onto each site.
Our Permit Program & Our Lax Enforcement Against Families Who Are Committing Fraud By Misrepresenting That Their Children Reside in Beverly Hills.
Below is a discussion of what we should do about cases where the residency of students is being misrepresented and a table containing information regarding our permit program. Considering the fact that we have junked up all of our campuses with temporary trailers to accommodate all of our students, and will be adding many more trailers during the upcoming renovation of our schools, I think that both of these issues deserve careful study. Our campuses would all fail to meet the State Department of Education guidelines for area per student even if we cut our enrollment in half. Why do we continue to undermine the safety of our students with space-hogging trailers, which result in insufficient playground space and unnecessary playground injuries?
I would also note that my greatest concern is our failure to devote a reasonable amount of resources to policing cases in which parents are committing fraud in order to allow their children to attend our schools, even though neither the parents nor the children reside in the District. Our current enforcement program is like guarding Fort Knox with a $2.00 padlock. I would far prefer to detect and deal with such cases of fraud than trim the permit program, because we can control who is admitted under the permit program and choose not to re-admit permit students who are disruptive or who do not make a reasonable effort to do their schoolwork. In contrast, we have little control over students whose parents fraudulently misrepresent that they reside in Beverly Hills. I am generally in favor of a permit program to fill seats that would otherwise be empty, and I think that having a child in the District based on a legitimate permit is a far different situation than having a child in the District based on fraud.
I have heard estimates that over 20% of our students are enrolled illegally based on such fraud. I believe that the time has come to see if this is true or just alligators in the sewer. I will call on the Board to devote greater resources to detecting and dealing with fraudulent cases. For example, we should take the time to program the Districts computers to detect cases where numerous families with different last names all report that they live in the same one bedroom apartment. We should also consider an "amnesty" program whereby families who are now defrauding us will have an incentive to report themselves. I am even willing to seek the assistance of the Beverly Hills Police Department, a private detective agency and/or parent volunteers to begin a vigorous program to root out cases of fraud.
I also believe that we should consider an amnesty program to encourage these families to report themselves. The incentive for such reporting would be that such families could keep their children in the District until the end of the current school year and would be eligible for the permit program. In contrast, families who we catch committing fraud would have their children expelled at the earliest reasonable opportunity and would be disqualified from subsequent participation in the permit program.
Also, last year, I called for a policy prohibiting members of the Board of Education from trying to influence permit decisions. I will continue to push for this.
Many families endure financial hardship and smaller residences to get their children into our school district. It is unfair and insulting to such families that there may be literally hundreds of out of District students who are enrolled based on fraud. It also seems ridiculous to cover our already overloaded campuses with expensive trailers merely to accommodate students who are here based on fraud, or even to accommodate permit students, except in those cases where we have strong reasons to accommodate them (such as children of our teachers and other employees and children of employees of the City of Beverly Hills).
These issues have lurked in the shadows for too long. Lets discuss them openly and make informed decisions at a televised meeting so that the public can judge for itself what is fair and appropriate.
As always, I have an open mind to other viewpoints and want to hear your thoughts. Click here to tell me what you think.
Our cat Kasha & dog Mary.