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Suburban Kids Yanked From Top CPS Schools; Parents Ordered To Pay Thousands

By Linze Rice | December 15, 2016 12:06pm | Updated on December 16, 2016 10:16am
 Several parents lied about where they lived in order to gain acceptance into selective-enrollment Chicago Public Schools, like Northside College Prep in North Park.
Several parents lied about where they lived in order to gain acceptance into selective-enrollment Chicago Public Schools, like Northside College Prep in North Park.
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DNAinfo/Quinn Ford

WEST RIDGE — The parents of eight suburban students were found to have lied about where they lived in order for their children to gain admission to five Chicago Public Schools selective-enrollment institutions, the district's Office of the Inspector General found in its annual report

Of those eight, two of the students were admitted to Northside College Prep in North Park; two were admitted to Decatur Classical School in West Ridge; and one applied to Decatur using a faulty address but was not accepted. 

Now, those families owe CPS thousands in nonresident tuition, the Inspector's office said.

Part of the criteria considered for admission at selective-enrollment schools are the socioeconomic factors that correlate to the U.S. Census tract families say they live in so students from lower economic tiers can have opportunities at the prestigious schools. 

According to the CPS investigator, a family from Highland Park, who had owned a 3,500-square-foot house for over 10 years, said they lived in a 600-square-foot apartment in Rogers Park in order to get their two children into Northside College Prep. 

"But an apartment inspection, surveillances, documents, electronic records and interviews revealed that the apartment was a sham residence," inspector Nicholas Schuler wrote. 

Because the eldest child spent the 2015-16 school year there, the family was ordered to pay CPS $12,878 for living outside the district. 

The same family tried using the Rogers Park address again to get its younger son enrolled at Northside as well.

The inspector's office recommended to the Chicago Board of Education that the older student be taken out of the school and the younger not be able to start at the school, as well as a permanent ban on both students at any CPS selective-enrollment school. 

The family agreed it would disenroll the youngest son and pay back $11,478 to CPS.

"Had they used the ... address of the home where they actually lived in Highland Park, he would not have qualified for admission to Northside," according to the report.

Another Evanston family said they were living in Chicago when parents enrolled their son at Decatur Classical School in West Ridge for the 2015-16 school year. 

Meanwhile, his younger sister attended an elementary school in Evanston. 

For the current school year, the parents attempted to then enroll the sister at Decatur using a fake Chicago address. 

The sister was not accepted to Decatur, though her mother told the district inspector that she had been offered a spot at one of the CPS neighborhood schools. 

The school board disenrolled the son, banned both students from attending any CPS selective-enrollment schools in the future and collected $12,878 from the parents.


CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said the findings were being reviewed.

“CPS has received these annual recommendations, and we look forward to closely reviewing these findings and taking appropriate action," Bittner said. "CPS has taken action and will continue to increase controls and improve accountability throughout the District, both in conjunction with these recommendations and proactively in numerous areas.” 

A suburban Niles family also lied about living in Chicago to get one of their sons enrolled at Decatur for the 2015-16 school year, having previously falsified residency information for an older son also attending a selective-enrollment program. 

Both students were taken out of their respective schools and parents were ordered  to pay $77,265 to CPS, or $12,878 for each year the boys were improperly enrolled. 

The parents, who are employees of City Colleges of Chicago, appealed the board's decision, which currently is pending. They were also referred to the City Colleges inspector general. 

Parents from other suburban areas also submitted fraudulent addresses to have their children accepted to Jones College Prep in the South Loop, Lane Tech Academic Center and Bell Regional Gifted Center. 

In last year's report, the district watchdog said it was monitoring an ongoing problem with admissions fraud at selective-enrollment CPS schools, prompting a new rule that calls for families who are found to be lying about their addresses to be permanently banned. 

"While the [Inspector] is hopeful that the permanent ban ... will help to stem these types of fraud, the problem nevertheless persists, and its full extent remains unknown," according to the report.

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