A called-for crackdown from Aspen School District | AspenTimes.com

A called-for crackdown from Aspen School District

The practice of parents of lying about their residency to enroll their children into the Aspen School District (ASD) is likely nothing new, especially when the schools are filled to capacity and closed to new downvalley students. At the same time, ASD administrators should be commended for the recent crackdown on students who aren’t eligible to attend class here.

At least one dozen students have been or could be kicked out of the school district by the end of the year for not playing by the rules – in this case, falsifying their residency by saying they lived within the ASD boundaries when they did not.

This is an unfortunate scenario on many fronts.

It’s unfortunate that parents outside of the ASD are so dissatisfied with the school districts in which they reside that they’ll stoop so low and enroll their children in the Aspen schools.

It’s unfortunate that the school district has to play the bad cop and disenroll pupils who may be productive students.

But most of all, it’s unfortunate – and downright disheartening – for the students who have built bonds and relationships with their peers, coaches and teachers, only to be told to pack their bags.

The situation at ASD is similar to what we see within Aspen and Pitkin County’s affordable housing program.

There are some residents who live in cut-rate housing but don’t actually qualify to reside there – whether they earn too much money, own other properties in the Roaring Fork watershed, or have more in assets than the requirements allow. But they continue to live in government-subsided housing by skirting the rules while other, eligible local workers play by the rules and either live in free-market housing or make the daily commute.

And while downvalley students are allowed to attend the Aspen public schools, they must apply and be admitted as out-of-district students on a space-available basis. If there is not room, they are put on a wait list.

According to the school principals, there were few – if any – spots open to new out-of-district students this school year; the scenario is likely the same for 2011-12. It is a situation that apparently led some families to lie about where they live by providing fraudulent documents to the school district.

Now the onus is on the ASD to finish what it started, and conduct a thorough investigation of those allegedly rogue students enrolled at Aspen schools. It’s the right thing to do, and is only fair to those other out-of-district families who are on the waiting list and are honest about their residency.

To not follow through would send a message that cheating is OK so long as it achieves the desired effect – hardly the message any school system should condone.

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