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Parents face charges due to student enrollment fraud

May 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dozens parents in San Francisco are being accused of address fraud -- lying about where they live to get their kids into desirable schools. And now their children are facing expulsion.

The number of fraud cases more than doubled in 2010 -- from 30 to 80. Those parents have 30 days to pay fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. Otherwise they could face criminal perjury charges.

San Francisco's prestigious Lowell High School is ranked among the top in the nation. There is stiff academic competition to get in, and the majority of students are accepted based on grades and test scores alone.

You have to live in San Francisco to apply. But the school district says this year, it turns out 30 Lowell students currently enrolled or who were accepted for the fall, don't live here -- their parents lied and submitted false proof of residency documents.

"I heard that's been a problem since forever, just because Lowell is really a great school," Lowell High School senior Stephanie Canlas said.

"It's surprising and not at the same time because, you know, everywhere you go some people try to get what they can through any kind of means," parent Aggie Canlas said.

"I have kids here. I want them to go to school here, so that's why I bought a house here," parent Sally Huang said.

The district says more parents are using a tip line to turn in the out-of-towners, and the district says it's working harder to find them. A coming change in the school assignment process will put more emphasis on a student's address, not just in San Francisco, but what part of San Francisco.

Lowell Vice Principal Michael Yi says he understands why parents are willing to lie, but the rules are the rules.

"If we let those students come into Lowell, then students in San Francisco who are supposed to be able to come to Lowell will not have a position here. We are very limited in space, very crowded here," he said.

The district says the false address cases include families from Oakland, South San Francisco and Daly City.

The reality is the district doesn't have the resources to investigate all 55,000 students, so this year's 80 cases could represent only a fraction of how many there really are.


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