The school your child attends can make a big impact on the rest of their education, and even their lives.
As much as you may love the neighborhood you live in, the schools in other areas may offer better educational options for your children. In some cases, the grandparents may also provide a lot of before and after school care so having a school close to them can make drop off and pick up easier.
If you want your child to attend the school in their grandparent’s district there are a few ways you can do this, without having to sell your own house and move into another area.
Every state, and even every school district, will have their own residency requirements as to who can attend the school if they don’t live in the area.
The good news is that many states do not require a care giver (like a grandparent) to have legal custody of the child to enroll in the school in the area.
The bad news is that those same school districts may also require the child to be in the school district for a legitimate purpose. In other words, they cannot be in the district just to go to that school.
In some cases, the school will require the care giver to provide legal documentation that they are the guardian or they have legal custody of the child in order for them to enroll in the school.
Why Do Schools Have Residency Requirements?
As mentioned, there are some schools that have better educational opportunities or they may have a specialized program you want your child to participate in.
Schools created residency requirements to prevent parents and families from, essentially, shopping for the best school to send their children to and only have the children living in that area during the week but not actually living there full time.
While these requirements do prevent parents and families from abusing the education system, and sending all kids to one school, it can also discriminate against certain family set ups and care givers.
As a by-product of requiring legal documentation showing that a care giver has full-time custody or is the legal guardian of a child, they are discriminating against children who are being raised by their family members without a legal agreement in place.
Educational Consent Laws
The government has taken some steps to help care givers who are raising children without a legal agreement or custody arrangement in place.
One of these steps is what’s known as educational consent laws. These laws allow for caregivers without legal custody to enroll the children in their care in the local school, tuition free.
The catch to this law is that the caregiver has to sign an affidavit – under a penalty of perjury – that they are the primary caregiver of the child and that the child lives with them the majority of the time.
Child’s Legal Residency
Some states have introduced laws that basically state a child’s residency follows them, and not their parents. So that if the child is being raised by a family member or another care giver, the child becomes a legal resident of that area as soon as they move there.
The important part here, as with other laws, is that the child does actually have to live in the area as opposed to just having grandparents who live there.
Special Education Laws
If your child requires special or accessible education, then you may be able to have them enroll in a school in another district without signing over custody or filling out an affidavit.
The government does its best to ensure that those children who need specialized education, which is not available in every school district, are able to access it without forcing parents to move.
Grandparents Provide Before and After School Care
School districts in Texas have a very unique law in place that states if the grandparents provide a substantial amount of before and after school care for the child then the child can enroll in the school in their district.
In order for the child to be registered in the school within their grandparent’s district, it will still need to be reviewed by the school board.
Additionally, the family will have to show that the grandparents do provide a substantial amount of the care for the children and there is a need for them to enroll in the school in that district.
This law just makes it a little easier for parents to arrange for care for their child without worrying about drop off and pick up will work.
Can I Just Say My Children Live With Their Grandparents or Use Their Address?
If you use the address of the grandparents when enrolling in school, you run a big risk of the school board finding out.
In some states, using a false address is a crime and you can be fined for knowingly giving the wrong address when registering your child for school.
If the school board finds out that you lied about the address your children live at, they could be expelled from the school and you could be given a very large fine for doing this.
It may not be worth the risk to do this.
Does the School Actually Check the Address of the Students?
The answer to this is still a bit unclear, and it may change from district to district. Some school boards may not have the time or resources to really verify that all of their students live where they say they do.
For most school boards, they will register students with the address given by the parents and won’t worry about it until they are given a reason to investigate it further.
Additionally, some school boards may do random checks over the course of the school year to make sure that students live where they say they do.
So if you register your child with an address that you don’t actually live at, you are running a big risk of being found out unless you know for sure the school your child is going to does not do any verification, or you have special circumstances.
How Do Schools Check the Address?
There are a few ways the school can check for a fake address, or even one that the child doesn’t actually live at.
The process will usually include the following steps
- The school will construct a panel of individuals they trust – could be persons in the community or parents that have been involved in the school for a long time. This panel will go through about 10% of applications to try and identify anyone who has given a false address.
- The school will create a template or process for other students and parents to reveal families they believe may be lying about their address.
- Officials at the school will typically investigate any families who change their address within one year of enrolling in the school, and try to find out if their initial address was fake.
All parents want the very best educational opportunities for their children, but in some cases they just can’t live in the right neighborhood or maybe afford a house in the district of the school they want their child to attend.
There are some states where specialized circumstances have allowed for parents to easily enroll their child into a school outside their area. If your child has special education needs or a school has a really specialized program then you may be able to apply for special consideration.
In order to make sure your child’s education is as consistent as possible, make sure you know the rules about the school districts in the state you live in.
You may have options for having grandparents as surrogate parents as well, although that can involve signing over the custody of your children.
The best thing you can do, if you want to have your children going to a specific school, is to purchase a home in the district you want to be in.
This is not always going to be easy, as sometimes houses in the most desirable school districts are much more expensive and hard to get – they almost never go up for sale.
If your children are not quite school age you have some time to consider your options, and you don’t have to decide right away.
In order to make sure your children do not have an expulsion on their record, it may be safest to register them in the school district that you live in right now. If you decide, in a couple years, that you want to move or buy a new house then they may be able to transfer and you can get them into the school you want.
For those lucky few who live in Texas, they have grandparent special circumstances where you can enroll your child in the school district of their grandparents when they provide significant care of the child.
Make sure you know the rules of your area and the school district you want to enroll your child in before you commit a fraudulent act.