Friday, June 16, 2006

Voucher Shenanigans?

In Cincinnati, the public school district has alleged that a number of private school students enrolled right at the end of the school year in order to fraudulently cash-in on that state's voucher program:
The Cincinnati Public School District is blocking the efforts of some private school parents who allegedly tried to enroll their children in the public district in the last days of school to qualify for state tuition vouchers.

That prompted some parents and officials from St. Mary's School in Hyde Park and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to extend their regrets for the actions of the last-minute enrollees. St. Mary's also is considering re-examining its voucher policies.

The public district sent letters to the parents of at least eight St. Mary's students to say they are enrolled effective for the 2006-07 school year. To qualify for vouchers, the students had to be enrolled during 2005-06.

"We have notified those parents by letter that they are certainly welcome to attend Cincinnati Public Schools, and we are glad to have them at the start of next school year," said Janet Walsh, spokeswoman for the district. "In the meantime, their enrollment for last school year has been flagged as ineligible. That appears to be within our purview."

It sent the letters after St. Mary's parents tried to enroll their children in John P. Parker School in Madisonville in the last two days of class.

Parker is one of 17 Cincinnati Public Schools that has been labeled in "academic watch" or "academic emergency" for three years.

That makes its students eligible for tuition vouchers worth up to $5,000 in state aid to attend private schools in the fall. Charter school students and incoming kindergartners who would be assigned to those schools also qualify.

Several St. Mary's parishioners called officials at Cincinnati Public Schools to apologize, Walsh said.

The accusation has prompted a debate about whether the parents violated the spirit of the law or simply used a legal loophole to save money. St. Mary's tuition is $2,475 next school year for in-parish students and $4,850 for out-of-parish students.

The voucher program, which is new for the 2006-07 school year, allows up to 14,000 tuition scholarships statewide. Current private school students are ineligible, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Heh. I noticed that the parents only apologized once they were caught "accidentally" trying to take advantage of the program. As the "accidentals" seem to have been all been from the same parochial school, it makes us wonder if there was some collusion involved...

It's nice to see that somebody is keeping an eye on the public till after all...
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