Originally created 08/12/01

Schools intend to enforce residency



Richmond County schools are cracking down on out-of-zone and out-of-county pupils trying to attend school illegally.

Superintendent Charles Larke told the Board of Education on Thursday night that he will use public safety officers in parking lots, background checks - even detectives - to make sure only Richmond County residents attend Richmond County schools.

Dr. Larke's announcement comes at the same time a parent, Sue Williams, is raising residency issues with the Board of Education. She said that she rents in Richmond County and that her son, until this year, has attended John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School.

She said her son was kicked out of the school because officials said he is not a Richmond County resident. She said that she has provided all the documentation necessary to prove her son lives in Richmond County and that the documentation has been good enough for her son to attend Davidson for the past two years.

"My son is very upset about this," she told the school board.

The issue is being reviewed by Leonard "Pete" Fletcher, the school board attorney.

At issue appears to be the fact that Mrs. Williams owns property and has a homestead exemption in Columbia County. Mrs. Williams, who said she has been open and honest about owning the property, said she is still a Richmond County resident.

Regardless of the outcome of that case, Dr. Larke has promised to instruct public safety officers to question parents and others who have out-of-county license plates and drop pupils off at Richmond County schools.

"I've seen Columbia license plates; I've seen South Carolina license plates; down in Hephzibah I've even seen Burke County license plates," he said. "They should not be at our schools."

Board member Ken Echols said it's a compliment to the system that out-of-county pupils want to attend Richmond County schools.

Reach Justin Martin at (706) 823-3552.