Fayette schools kick out 255 illegal students since 2009

Fayette County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden at a recent Board of Education meeting. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Most popular schools for illegal out-of-county students: Fayette County and Sandy Creek high schools, Flat Rock Middle School, North Fayette and Burch elementary schools

The Fayette County School System has received criticism in recent years for not doing enough to catch and expel out-of-county students illegally attending classes here. What do the numbers say about that?

School system Director of Pupil Personnel Services Barbara Serapion answered that question at the Aug. 15 meeting of the Board of Education, reporting that 255 students had been withdrawn by the school system in just over two years due to residency requirements.

The more difficult issue for The Citizen was to obtain a school-by-school breakdown of those numbers.

Information subsequently supplied by the school system showed that over the past two years and so far this year there have been 114 elementary students withdrawn over residency issues, 51 middle school students, 80 high school students and 10 students enrolled in other academic areas.

While the school system does not, and often cannot, track the county of residence of the illegal students, it is clear that students attending Fayette schools illegally during the period were attending those schools in the areas of the county in closest proximity to Fulton and Clayton counties.

As for previous school years, there were 41 students withdrawn in 2004-2005, 98 in 2005-2006, 68 in 2006-2007, 176 in 2007-2008 and 136 in 2008-2009.

Obtaining the breakdown on the various schools for 2009-2011 proved to be more difficult than first anticipated. A request by The Citizen for that information was first met with the response that Serapion did not collect some of those details.

“The only numbers she has is what she presented at the board meeting since she didn’t take over residency until 2009,” school system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said of the totals for 2009-2011 reported on at the Aug. 15 board meeting.

A subsequent conversation with Superintendent Jeff Bearden on Aug. 29 after several email exchanges with Berry-Dreisbach cleared up the question. Bearden said he thought the delay in obtaining the information requested by The Citizen might have been due to a miscommunication between Serapion and Berry-Dreisbach.

Bearden said the breakdown by schools was not included in Serapion’s database, adding that he asked her secretary to go back and pull the information by hand.

Another request by The Citizen, that of the county of residence of students found to be illegally attending Fayette schools, is not tracked since it is often difficult to determine since a parent sometimes withdraws their child prior to the school system showing that the child is attending illegally, Bearden said.

“A lot of times that information (on the county of residence) comes from the child and we do the follow-up,” Bearden said.

That said, Bearden said the school system is concerned about out-of-county students attending Fayette schools. And Bearden did note that, “It was because of the perception that the system doesn’t care if out-of-county students attend that I had asked Barbara to give a report to the school board. I wanted to make a public report knowing that the media would be there. We’re very aggressive when we find out that a student is not here legally.”

Broadening the issue, Bearden was asked if he believed that Fayette residents and taxpayers have a right to know the full extent of the information on illegal residency.

“Residents have the right to know whatever they want to know and we have the obligation to provide that information if we can,” Bearden responded.

mcg
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Tracking Down Illegal Students

Yesterday, both the AJC and WSB-tv had stories about Fayette County tracking down 255 illegal students. Both stories stated that the county would seek $8000 in back tuition from parents of out-of-county students. The stories also claim that the county had collected $60,000 from parents. If you divide $60,000 by the 255 students, that comes to $235 per student. If we are supposed to collect $8000 per student, that same 255 students should have paid $2,040,000 -- that's right-- over 2 million dollars! That would certainly go a long way to easing our $10 million shortfall. Getting rid of the illegal students is good, but the school board needs to truly pursue getting reimbursement from the parents -- $235 per student isn't going to cut it. We can't afford to keep educating kids from outside the county anymore, and in my opinion, that also includes the athletes who live outside the county, but have been getting a pass from schools so they can play football here.

suggarfoot
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I couldn't agree more

"... and in my opinion, that also includes the athletes who live outside the county, but have been getting a pass from schools so they can play football here."

That has been going on for a very long time. Do you think we just grow em stronger and better at playing football...only in the Sandy Creek area? Think we got something in the water here that does that? My my...the titans of North Fayette county.

I've always felt it unfair to the kid here to bring them in. In knocks our own out of the possiblity of scholarships etc as well. No reason for it except ego.

halfdollarandlost
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suggarfoot

Think back really hard now, remember last season when Starrs Mill was also playing for a title, where did they import theirs from?

suggarfoot
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agree they all do it

I was referring to SCHS always having a winning team. It isn't fair at any of the schools. By doing this, our own children are being cheated out of participating. I have a friend that counted big on her kid getting a scholarship at SC cause his big brother did. He was good, but was only 2nd string. If we didn't have all the out of county kids...who knows? Why take away our own kids chances to play just for the sake of stroking our own egos saying we have a winning team?

halfdollarandlost
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suggarfoot

You mistake my meaning, you also do the kids and coaches at SC a disservice by saying they would not win without out of county kids, of which you have no evidence, but you still harp on over and over.

suggarfoot
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well there is only one way to find out isn't there?

throw out all out of county ball players. I didn't say they couldn't win, or only win, because of out of county players. It would seem your coaches would be the one of that opinion or they wouldn't keep allowing them would they?

The playing field should be for our own kids to win or loose, get a scholarship or not get one. Do you have a problem with that?

halfdollarandlost
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suggarfoot

My coaches? Please tell me who my coaches are. Sounds like your friends kid just wasn't good enough, to blame that on out of county students is a little tenuous don't you think. What makes you think the coaches know where kids live anymore then a teacher would?

kcchiefandy
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Maybe this guy can find the answer...

...and get the 'non-at-large', NAACP-backed Fayette Co. BOE seat!

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/29111558/detail.html

Heck, he's an insider to the 'Rap industry'; who could possibly be more qualified???!

Missy
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Illegal students

Barbara Serapion is doing an awesome job investigating the illegal students, but there are hundreds of parents trying to cheat the system, and she is only one person. For every one that gets caught, there are a few who get away with it. These parents are breaking the law and should be prosecuted or fined, not just charged $23.00 a day. We are in the hole by $19 million.If the Fayette Board of Education would disclose the actual figures of how many kids are in our schools on affidavits, our citizens would be furious. We all need to take an interest in this, or just move to Coweta County like everyone else.

roundabout
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Illegal students

Is this also a hunt for illegal immigrant children? Why not?

What about illegitimate children?

How about ugly children?

Poor children?

Dumb children?

Is this a separation of the races hunt---like WW2?

Wouldn't it be better to punish the parent rather than the child?

kcchiefandy
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No, it wouldn't...

..., then the child will learn cheating & lying have consequences. You can pay my property taxes if you think it's just ok to allow non-residents/non-Fayette Co. taxpayers into our school system. Rolling my eyes at your other 'questions'...

mcg
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Consequences for Illegal Students?

While it is good that these 255 students were removed from Fayette County schools, I wonder if there are going to be any consequences for the parents of these students. Will they be required to reimburse the taxpayers of Fayette County? Also, if they falsified information on affidavits in order to attend FC schools, will they be prosecuted? If there aren't any consequences, what is the real deterrent?

roundabout
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mcg

You must be kidding!

We won't even jail the CEOs and owners of businesses who hire illegal immigrants-just the immigrants!

suggarfoot
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nope!

they have to pay the county $23.00 a day for the time the kids were in school. Pretty good deal don't you think?

suggarfoot
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a real surprise!

"Most popular schools for illegal out-of-county students: Fayette County and Sandy Creek high schools, Flat Rock Middle School, North Fayette and Burch elementary schools"

Now that is a surprise! Wow!!! BURCH ELEMENTARY!!! The one that was sooooo overcrowded that Smola ...HAD.. to build Rivers to put all those over crowded kids in. Rivers, the one that now sits there with 30 kids in it. The school that the cost of keeping it open is eating us alive.

Before swaggering out and building that overpriced school..it would seem that she should have listened to the VERY VOCAL PARENTS (ME FOR ONE) that told her there were out of county kids there ..instead she ignored it and bullied on with Rivers. She should have had her loud mouth down there checking it out.

My child is now in college and when they were young, I had a very strong conversation with her over this very issue. The result? Nothing was done.

I would venture to say you could get 200 Clayton, Fulton, and Douglasville, (yes) tags in the car line in the morning. Kicking 200 kids out since 09 is nothing. You need to kick about 2000 out!

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