Unprofessional/unsafe PAUSD residency checks
Original post made
by parent, Gunn High School,
on Jul 19, 2007
A man from PAUSD just rang my door bell at 6:40 PM and expected me to open my door since he had a PAUSD tag around his neck. Being alone and not being an expert in self defense, I am not about to let some man or women in my home. He said he was verifying student residency. Then he said he wanted to know if the "student" lived here and what my name was. Would you discuss who lives in your home with an unannounced stranger? Is this the unprofessional, unsafe matter in which PAUSD handles situations? I asked him to leave his card at the door. Of course he did not have a card but left his supervisors card, and no one is answering the phone at this time. The supervisors name on the card is Roberto Antonio River, Residency officer his phone # is 650-329-3955.
Posted by Private parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2007 at 4:49 pm
Another Person Heard From -- you didn't really read my post. It would have spared you that long response.
No perfect solution, agreed. But no, I have so little faith in common sense, responsiveness to community input, and fiscal responsibility out of Churchill after the whole MI debacle (and other simultaneous trust snafus) that I wouldn't waste my time calling. Like anything I have to say would have an impact.
I do know a lot about how investigations work, and they are vastly more expensive than you can imagine when they involve a skilled investigator. The real world is not like t.v. If we had to do this for even a substantial fraction of students, we would not be saving money. And I can promise you that unless those responsible for contracting for the investigations are very experienced working with this type of investigator, PAUSD will end up charged much more than we expect in the end. And will likely have clean up and consequences that we have to handle internally. There is also the potential for lawsuits from those people whose cases are mishandled.
All of your questions are legitimate points. I didn't say that everyone would be able to provide ready, cheap evidence that they live here. But many, many can, so we should start there, as I said in my previous message. We can't send a person out everywhere if we want to save money, do this in an efficient way, and get the right answer from an investigation like this most of the time. Some people who are here legitimately, but perhaps new as one of the examples you gave, would need to be followed up with, but there are easier intermediate measures in those cases, too. I use a POBox in another town for my mail, have for many, many years. So my file might like suspicious. I don't mind having to jump through a few extra hoops to verify my residency, that's par for the course. Sure, maybe Palo Alto could verify that I live here with an expensive private investigation, but why not just give me the option of saving the district money by asking me to provide references? Or suggesting a simple phone call to some long-time teachers who know us?
Or how about this? Just announce to the school that certain staff will go home with certain students at times randomly chosen -- a pop quiz? Staff that know the kids would be more qualified to assess whether a child actually lives in that space, a teacher would be more welcome in the home than a private investigator, and the "pop" quiz could be a positive visit for the child if nothing is actually amiss. For people who live here legitimately, this would be far less of a privacy and personal threat than a private investigator, but for those who don't, the unpredictable threat could make for some early "transfers" away to their real home districts. Okay, go ahead and criticize away, I"m not saying this is my first choice. But figuring out something like this is just so much easier and cheaper within a community context.
For me, personally, I believe most of the kids hurt by this will be those who have more complex lives, not those who are deliberate cheats. I know one family that owns a home in another town, but their child mainly lives here in Palo Alto, yes, for the schools, with the grandparents, but also because the grandparents are primary caregivers. Does the child always live here 7 days a week? Probably not every week, but at least 5 or 6 days most weeks. Does the child substantially live here most days of the week even on weekends? Yes. Does someone in the family who cares for the child reside permanently in a house or apartment in Palo Alto? Yes. Will the child be living here this summer for those infamous residency checks? No. Sent away to another country for language immersion. It would be so easy to assume from circumstantial evidence that this kid doesn't qualify to go to school here. The fight the family would probably have to endure if an investigator makes natural assumptions would hurt that family, my kid's classroom, and our school in ways that simply wouldn't be worth catching a few cheaters who don't live here over. The cost of straightening out the misunderstandings that could come from someone making summer spot checks probably haven't been considered by the people at Churchill (or more likely, fancifully justified away as being cost neutral).