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Residency Verification Reveals New Rochelle Schools May Be Dealing With Improperly Enrolled Students

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- One Westchester County city may be spending millions to educate children improperly enrolled in the school district.

It's a concern in many affluent suburban districts.

Located at 515 North Ave. is New Rochelle City Hall, but it's the address a parent claimed as a residence in an effort to enroll a child in the local schools, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.

"Well, it's better than the school district they're in," resident Joe Rafalowicz said.

New Rochelle City Hall
City Hall - New Rochelle, NY - File / Photo: City of New Rochelle

A consultant is verifying enrollment in New Rochelle and early estimates show approximately 200 of the 11,000 students may be improperly registered, potentially costing the district up to $5 million a year.

The district committed to residency verification last year, right after two New Rochelle High School students fought off campus and one was fatally stabbed. It turns out the girl who was charged lived in Yonkers. The district wouldn't say if she was improperly enrolled, but residents demanded action.

"New Rochelle shouldn't be paying for kids that don't live here," resident Anna Herrera said.

MOREGrade-Fixing Scandal Rocks New Rochelle High School

Dr. Joseph Ricca is superintendent in White Plains, where officials in the registration office work hard to weed out applications from families who don't live in the district.

"Listen, we know that we should be providing educational services only to the children who live in the community," Ricca said.

Registration director Michelle Gordon Bartley gave examples of the extremes parents will go to.

"We've had people send their secretaries and all kinds of different workers to come and register their children for school," she said.

"Parents and guardians just really want the best for their child. We understand that. If that's the case you have to move to the district," Ricca added.

Ricca said when a fraudulent enrollment is discovered, telling the student to leave is painful but necessary.

The expert working with New Rochelle said in an average school district, between 1 and 3 percent of students are of questionable residency. Many districts employ investigators to follow up on concerns.

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