Tuition Rate Set for Students Violating Residency Requirements of Grosse Pointe Schools

In a split vote, the Grosse Pointe Public School board approved a tuition rate Monday night that will be imposed when students are found to be attending the schools in violation of state's residency requirements.

The Board set a tuition rate for the first time Monday that specifically targets students who are found to be ineligible to attend the district's schools because they do not meet residency requirements.

The decision did not come easily and was preceeded by many comments from the board members. Ultimately, the board approved the annual rate to be $13,030 in a 4-2 vote with board member Joan Dindoffer abstaining from the vote.

Leading up to Monday's decision is a group called when dozens of people spoke from the group demanding the board take action to increase enforcement and strengthen the district's policies regarding residency eligibility.

The group has since had at least two meetings with district officials, including Superintendent Tom Harwood and School Board President Judy Gafa, to discuss ways in which they believe the current policies and procedures could be bolstered.

Setting a penalty tuition was among the group's ideas.

The two dissenting board members, Lois Valente and Brendan Walsh, and abstaining board member Joan Dindoffer, individually described why they were against setting a specific amount. Valente and Dindoffer said they both had too many unanswered questions to feel comfortable about voting in favor of it.

Walsh took some issue with the wording and framing of the tuition amount and questioned the use of "penalty" tuition.

Many of the suggestions by the group have related to policies instituted by Birmingham Pulbic Schools to address the same issue--residency, illegal attendance of the schools and such.

Walsh said in Birmingham they use their tuition rate in a fashion that is like recruiting. "It's a $1.5 million business for them."

Deterrance is important, Walsh said, but rather than support a tuition amount that cannot be pursued directly by the district, he said he's in favor of trying to reach a perpetual reverification system.

The tuition may be sought by prosecutors either in the municipal courts in the Pointes or by the Wayne County Prosecutors Office through prosecution. Any amount that exceeds $3,000 must be handled through Wayne County as that is the maximum amount allowable to be handled in the Grosse Pointe municipal courts, school district attorney Mark McInerney said.

Before the public meeting, the board participated in a closed meeting to review the legal opinion McInerney about setting such a tuition rate, enforcement, prosecution and collection of the monies owed.

Valente and Walsh both noted they objected to the meeting being closed because the topic did not involve any particular student or employee of the district. Valente said she believes some of the discussion would have been beneficial for the public to hear.

Among the many questions listed off by board members relate to collections of the tuition after a student is found in violation and removed from the schools. Not only are some board members questioning the cost of such collection but also how the state's foundation allowance would be handled and whether the district would have to repay that amount to the state.

The amount of tuition to be collected would be pro-rated based on the amount of school attended illegally, McInerney said afterward.

So students who are found in violation for a month's time for example, would only be charged a portion of the annual rate. As long as the amount is $3,000 or less, such cases can be handled in the Grosse Pointe Municipal courts, he said, saying if the amount owed were slightly higher, the district could forego the extra dollars so as to keep it in the local courts. 

Dindoffer said one of her concerns is that the district may never see any of the tuition from the student found to be ineligible but the district may still have to pay back the state.

The district has had a long-standing tuition rate that is set annually by the board for students who are considered exceptions under the state's residency requirements, such as seniors whose family moves at the end of the school year. That amount was approved in July, which is $13.50 per day or nearly $1,900 for a year.

Generally this particular situation only impacts about five families per year and the state outlines specifically who qualifies.

The difference between the two amounts is concerning to Valente, who said she believes the amount should be universal and the process non-discriminatory.

"It's really messy," Valente said. "I still have a lot of open-ended questions."

In addition to discussion about the tuition rate, the board discussed the administration's evolving residency confirmation process during registration for school. and ensure residency remains throughout the year.

Specifically targeted in the discussions were residents who have rented properties within the community for years but are on a month-to-month lease. They will now have to submit proof of residency monthly--a process Valente, who said she's been a rental property owner--questions and believes is of great inconvenience to those who have been in the community for years.

Some members of the Residents for Residency group voiced their disagreement loudly when any board member said something they did not believe to be correct or disagreed with. Some also addressed the board outlining similar requests as those who spoke in July.

Chad Bateman August 30, 2012 at 02:54 AM
There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable... I simply am not there.
V. M. August 30, 2012 at 03:32 AM
William, Great idea! I've been saying that all along. If a landlord has his tenants sign a lease, makes it clear that random checks will take place, and if they move, before their lease contract if up, the school district will be notified. When you inform your renters of the RULES!!!!, you may less likely encounter cheaters. One question to the SB, when these violaters are caught, and fined, are they removed from school???? C. Fenton, complains about the $80,000 costs for proof of residency. What do you suppose this will cost us in Attorney fees, time spent on finding the violaters, and time taken to go to court.???? Oh, and the district better make sure to cross all of your "t's" and dot all of your " I's ", because the paper work better be accurate. Otherwise, oops, you may have a lawsuit. This decision by the SB, in my opinion, came to quickly. This was to silent the residents in making it look like they acted quickly and formed a solution. I have my doubts that any money will be collected, from this.How as residents, will we ever know.
Judy Gafa August 30, 2012 at 05:04 PM
V.M. yes, when the violaters are caught they are removed. The number of investigations and students removed is updated on the GPPSS website on a quarterly basis.
Bill IV August 30, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Yeah let's make this the landlords problem and put them in jail. Landlords rent houses, they aren't babysitters. I have a rental in HW (not by choice) and i have enough problems with the tenants and the house itself, i don't need possible jail hovering over me because i'm not constantly spying on my tenants. Oh and a fine of $50,000? Let me get out my checkbook.
walden schmidt August 30, 2012 at 08:07 PM
They should work with the local police and have charges files against those that are caught.
Katie August 31, 2012 at 03:07 PM
@Kathy, "I'd like to focus on the business of educating kids now; all the kids -- no matter how their roof is paid for...None of this is going to matter when School of Choice is passed.." Since you are obviously for School of Choice and don't care about paying the premium for the current rule breaking non-resident/eligible kids, I agree - let's move on and just have the GPPSS send the cheaters bill directly to you.
Mark August 31, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Thankfully Katie we do not have to allow our fates to rest in the hands of Kathy or Hunter. Schools of Choice will not be coming down and if it ever does it will be soundly defeated again.
David Hensley August 31, 2012 at 05:18 PM
This is a serious problem and needs to be addressed and addressed now. Out of district people come here for better schools and environment that is lacking where they currently are located. Many times this means that their scholastic level isn't as high as current GPPSS students and this creates the gap. Also, every community has a certain character or set of values that it maintains or that develops which makes it appealing to potential residents. Many times people that are taking advantage of our district and community are not of the same value set or character that the community is/has created over time and that has a negative effect on the community. That is happening to the Grosse Pointes to some extent and many, many people don't like it and rightfully so. Every where I go in the district for an athletic event, musical event, fundraiser, scholastic event, Scouting event, and other extra-curricular events this topic, currently and previously, comes up as a hot button issue with so many of the residents with or without children in the district and they are outraged about what is happening but have felt powerless to do anything about it. How someone can say that this is not an important issue that we need to move on from is beyond me.
David Hensley August 31, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Fight to defeat schools of choice, until we have either won or lost the last battle and the war! Also, make sure that it is known that our district and community will pursue, prosecute, penalize and remove out of district people taking advantage of our school district and community as a whole!
David Hensley August 31, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Lastly, thanks to all of those lending their voices, time, and efforts to this issue, going to the District and School Board!
Chris K September 01, 2012 at 02:43 AM
David: I have heard that at many community and school events administrators are reminding audiences to refrain from inappropriate applause and cell phone usage to no avail but then taking no action to reinforce their requests. While one would think simple requests to behave in a way that respects everyone present, the community and its values is unnecessary, that's not the case. We need to bolster the public nuisance ordinances in our community and then enforce them. Outrage without action solves nothing.
P.HOSFORTH September 01, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Mark September 01, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Hosforth I'm glad you used caps lock so I could read your post. Please do not buy your dream home. If your only take away from this conversation is that we are a bunch of Klan members we do not need you poisoning this community.
Chris K September 01, 2012 at 08:25 PM
P. Hosforth: Anyone who is considering spending $487,000 for a home, in any community, should do a lot of investigating on their own before they make that sort of financial commitment. I would say you will find very few communities, regardless of the residents political affiliations or beliefs , would be welcoming to or comfortable with neighbors who leave their caps lock on (SHOUTING) when posting on the Internet - it either shows a lack of attention to detail (not a good thing when neighbors value their property) or a very angry person.
P.HOSFORTH September 01, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Mark and Chis K, you seem more interested in my leaving caps lock on (mistake, not shouting, sorry), than my question, what is the real issue here, my grandparents and parents have lived in the Pointes. I would be a third generation to do so. I just want to know who I am living next to, People who want to make sure that students and parents are not cheating honest tax paying citizens by draining a great school system, or people who want to keep out anyone who dont look like them.
Mark September 02, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Hosforth if you have two generations of family living here and still can't figure out what the neighborhood is like then I don't think a comment board is going to help you.
P.HOSFORTH September 02, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Mark I have traveled since leaving this beautiful area upon graduating college, due to my job, why the hostility?? My grandparents and parents dont have children of school age so I am seeking answers from people with children in the schools with the problem, just by what i am reading on this site and others, the bigger problem seems to be from renters more than just out right violaters, what are the numbers on this? Can there be a system in place that if you move in the grosse pointe school district from another district the student has to pass a test to meet the basic standards of the schools in the district in which they are trying to Legally enroll?
David Hensley September 02, 2012 at 05:33 AM
I can only speak for myself when I say this is not about race. I strongly feel that a majority of the people who live in the community are upset about the fact that some people are taking advantage of our community and district, not about the race of these people or where they're from. The Pointes are not without their flaws, either is any other community, but we are one of the best communities around. Our character, values, environment, and our culture as a community are what make us great and our school district one of the best in the State. People work hard to be a part of this community both at work and when they put in so many hours at civic and school related activities to make us one of the best. So, for some to come here and by-pass the system by renting then moving, using another's address, lying, cheating, and by what ever other method fraudulently attain that for which we, who live here, work so hard for upsets me and many others. From the beginning, those that do these illicit and illegal things are already exhibiting poor character and values which is either vocally taught to their children they send here or by just merely observation as they see how their parents or caregivers subvert rules and laws to achieve that which they haven't contributed to, are lawfully entitled to have, or worked hard to create and maintain. That is a slippery slope for many who do these types of things and tend to lead to other bad moral or character choices in my opinion.
David Hensley September 02, 2012 at 05:45 AM
I would like to add that this, in my opinion, is not a widespread epidemic issue or anything like that, but it is somewhat increasing to the point that it must be addressed. Also, I think many were afraid to voice these concerns for a few years for fear of the attacks that they would face like some I see here or in other sources. People always assume that if you want to defend something that you have, and work hard for, and that no one should just be able to take it from you or automatically be able to share that with you, it is some form of hatred, bigotry, racism, or elitism. It is not! It is defending what is ours, and that which we and those that have come before us have built! That leads me to defeating Schools of Choice legislation. It what ever form or method it takes, it must be defeated!
Jason R. September 02, 2012 at 10:33 AM
I couldn't have put it any better than David just did. When I work as hard as I do to give my family a better life and someone else, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, cheats the system, I take offense to that. We have the best community in southeast Michigan and our schools are part of this (lakefront parks, city services, community, etc) and we need to protect this at all costs. P. Hosforth, I have travelled around with my job also and have never found a community like Grosse Pointe. You will have close minded people in every community, but the majority of Grosse Pointers with families are very tolerant. My children love this community and I highly recommend it to everyone. BTW, my house is for sale if you haven't bought that house in the City!
Mark September 02, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Why the hostility? Your first post said and I quote "BUT IT SEEMS LIKE MOST OF YOU JUST DONT WANT BLACKS IN YOUR COMMUNITY, BE HONEST!!" So when you come on here and make accusations of racism and say you don't want live near Klan members I'm sorry I take issue with that. It was when I called you out on your own bigoted assumptions that we are Klan members that you changed your tune to oh I am from GP I just want to know what's happening in the schools. So spare me if I find you to be less than genuine. Read David Hensley's posts as I believe those accurately describe how most of us feel.
Michael Leonhard September 04, 2012 at 05:02 PM
So a checker cab was picking a child/children up from Monteith after the half day this morning. The cab driver was blocking flowing traffic while the mother and grandmother were waiting for the kids to exit school. I always thought the Pointes were walking communities and that was the reason there is no bus system. So my question is, if you live within the district and are at a school close to your home (whether owned or leased), then why must you pay for a taxi cab to bring you to school to pick your kids up?
Kurt Doelle September 04, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I would like to see the current students of this community enjoy the benefits of an undiminished education. This is being provided provided by professionals who truly know and respect the demands presented by an active and engaged community. This is a self evident priority as demonstrated by the tax base and the collective cultural professionalism found in the Pointes.. Congrats ro all of you...you care. Now, here is the reality... as a 25 year vet of teaching secondary and unviersity students....There will never be equality in education. All students can NOT learn equally and socio-economics factors tend to (not always) dictate an unequal thrist for knowledge. Sorry! Here is a crazy concept...Want something? EARN IT! Smoking Dope and complaining about the economy while protesting Wallstreet accomplishes little-Get tough with medicocrity and do not allow the low standards to creep into the Pointes. DEMAND MORE!!! God Bless all of you for showing concern. GP FOR LIFE-I do want you on the wall-A quality education can not be free & easy to obtain-It (like anything else) should be earned by those who are willing to work rather than slide in without notice. D.C. ROCKS!
GP For Life September 04, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Lynn, let me know how I may be of service.
Kurt Doelle September 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Caps lock does get old very fast and diminshes your point as does the KKK reference-I can only speak for myself-I DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO CHEAT THEIR WAY INTO G.P. SCHOOLS. This is an ethical observation rather than one based upon culture or creed. I have lived in communities where school is a far lesser priority. The culture suffers greatly...I am willing to pay higher taxes, work harder and make sacrafices to ensure that it DOES NOT HAPPEN HERE-I do not care about the demographic of a cheater-I want them out- Feel me?
Kurt Doelle September 06, 2012 at 03:41 PM
David, you are a gem!
Bill IV September 06, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Since this whole issue is about people cheating to use our resources without paying their fair share, i don't see why race always comes into play and quite frankly there is no correlation between the two. We have a simple rule, you live within the district or you don't send your kids to school here. It's a pretty clear and concise rule and that's how it's always been. Please stop reading into it more than you need to and creating issues that don't exist. If the majority of the offenders happen to be black, well it is what it is. Don't blame me and call me a KKK wannabe because of it. There's plenty of black people who do live here so what would be the purpose of getting rid of a few of them and going through all of this hoopla if this whole thing was just about the color of ones' skin. Seems like it would be a big waste of time and money. It's a closed school district and it needs to be enforced otherwise what's what's the point of having the rule in the first place.
Bradley Coopersmith September 14, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Just read this and wanted to report. It is from someone outside of our community that has no idea about the challenges we face. http://www.mackinac.org/17526
Mark September 14, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Clearly has no understanding of the area and the ramifications of allowing severely under performing adjacent communities to attend GP schools.
GP Booster September 27, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Remarkably intelligent forum posts. Nice to be part of a communirty that seems to care so much. Bottom line- I pay about %50 higher property taxes at a great sacrafice so that my children can get the best education in the area. If this problem is unchallenged more and more freeloaders will feel free to send their underqalified offspring at our expense. Do you want the Ponts to turn into Harper Woods? Keep up with the apathy.


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