The Mississippi State Board of Education is reminding parents that falsely giving residency information is a misdemeanor and conviction can see the parent or guardian fined. Several cities in Mississippi have passed ordinances making conviction for giving false residency information to school officials punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and 10 days in jail.
Superintendents at Houston, Okolona and Chickasaw County schools said their district will be a little more vigilant this year and urge parents and guardians to assist them in following the law.
“There is a process students can go through to change districts and people need to follow it,” said Houston Superintendent Dr. Steve Coker. “We don’t have many people leave our district but we do have many that want to enroll here.”
Coker said forms to allow a student to change residency can be picked up at the Houston Central Office. He added all additions or transfers must be approved by the school board.
“We gladly do this,” said Coker. “I do want to point out we ask for their academic record and their discipline records. If there has been a problem or you are running from something the board takes that into consideration.”
Okolona Superintendent Dexter Green said Okolona has a problem with students living in the district and attending other schools.
“That hurts our MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) funding and our average daily attendance numbers,” said Green. “That is how this district – every district – qualifies for state and federal money.”
He also pointed out Okolona has made great strides to improve their schools and it starts with community support.
“We prefer our students attend our schools,” said Green. “Our school board has worked hard to help build this community and we need the community’s support for our schools. That means people from Okolona should send their children to Okolona schools.”
Chickasaw County Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums said Houlka’s school board has a policy to not allow students to transfer out unless their parents teach at another school district.
“It’s really not that big a problem with us,” said Collums. “We are a small school and a small community. We have a pretty good idea where kids live.”
At all schools in Chickasaw County non-compliance issues are usually made to the school principal who forwards them on to the Superintendent or his designee for additional investigation and further action.
Houston will host a district-wide residency verification in one location – Houston Middle School – this year, with students showing up on one of two days based on their last name.
Students whose last name begins with the letters A-M will show up at the Houston Middle School from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 22.
Students whose last name begins with the letters N-Z will show up at the Houston Middle School from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24.
Students will be issued schedules and homeroom assignments upon completion of residency verification.
Houlka will start classes Aug. 6, and Okolona will start classes Aug. 11. Students or parents must provide proof of residency before students can enroll in classes.
Parents or guardians must bring two separate proof of residency documents that are current and acceptable to the state. These documents are classified as Group I and Group II documents.
• Filed Homestead Exemption Application Form.
• Mortgage documentation.
• Rental or Lease documentation.
• Home utility bill. The bill must be current and list a physical address.
• Automobile registration.
Students living with someone who lives in the district must comply with each of the following items.
• Produce an affidavit of residency.
• Person named on the affidavit must provide proof from Group I and Group II documents.
Students presenting an affidavit of residency may be required to allow a home visit by a school official and proof of residency documentation may be reviewed 60 days after enrollment.
Students enrolled in a school without proper residence verification and without an approved transfer can be forced to withdraw from the school in which they are illegally enrolled.
Students who are illegally enrolled can see their parent or guardian held liable to reimburse the
district for expenses incurred to educate their student, or civil action resulting from fraud, negligent misrepresentation and negligence.