School district officials confirmed last week that the Central Office is investigating Samantha Morra, assistant principal at Mount Hebron Middle School, to determine whether she enrolled her children in Montclair schools using a Montclair mailing address that is actually part of the Little Falls school district.
"I can't say anything. It's a personnel matter," School Board President Robin Kulwin told Montclair Patch previously. "But an allegation has been made. Any time there's an allegation, then the Central Office investigates."
On Friday, Kulwin gave the following update on the investigation, emphasizing that a legal process must be followed:
"There is no official word from Central Office yet for the following reason: As an employee of the Montclair Public Schools and as a member of the Montclair Principals Association, Ms. Morra has the right to a hearing before the Superintendent of Schools or his designee to respond to the allegations that have been made against her," Kulwin said. "That hearing will take place very shortly in accordance with the timelines set forth in the union contract."
Interim Schools Superintendent Clarence Hoover told Baristanet last week that he received information alleging that Morra had used an Upper Mountain Avenue address in Montclair to enroll her kids in Montclair schools even though the address is listed under the Little Falls school district and tax rolls.
If the allegation turns out to be true, it would prove embarrassing for the Montclair school district, which is requiring all incoming freshmen at Montclair High School to re-register this summer.
This re-registration requires all parents or guardians to provide proof of residency, part of an effort to make certain students attending Montclair schools actually live in Montclair.
Meanwhile, Mount Hebron is currently without a permanent principal following the transfer of Guy Whitlock to the Central Office this summer.
HERE IS THE MONTCLAIR POLICY ON THIS ISSUE BELOW:Only children domiciled in the district, or authorized to attend by the superintendent, are eligible to attend Montclair schools.
The Montclair Board of Education reserves the right to verify the domicile of any pupil and validity of any affidavit of guardianship.
At any time, the Board reserves the right to verify, through investigation and in accordance with the proofs of eligibility specified in policy 5111:
1. the domicile of any applicant for enrollment in the public schools of the district,
2. the domicile of any student suspected of being a non-resident, and
3. the domicile of students moving from grade eight into grade 9 at Montclair High School.
If the district cannot verify the domicile of an applicant based on information provided at the time of the initial application for permitting enrollment, the district reserves the right to require additional information at any time as a condition for permitting tuition-free enrollment.
Failure to Establish Domicile
If, in the judgment of the district, the documentation and other evidence submitted by a pupil seeking enrollment in the district's schools does not support the parent/guardian's claim that the pupil is domiciled within the district, the superintendent of schools may deny admission to the pupil. The district will follow the procedures described in the statue and code including the provision of written notice to the parent/guardian of the district's decision and the parent/guardian's right to appeal the decision to the Commissioner of Education within 21 days of the date of the decision.
The Montclair Board of Education will take legal action against non-resident parents/guardians and those individuals who assist them in the illegal enrollment of pupils in the public school system.
A pupil whose family moves out of Montclair within during his/her final semester in grade 12 may be permitted to attend the high school for the remainder of his/her senior year without payment of tuition. Failure to graduate at the end of that year will terminate nonresident unpaid enrollment.
Children of Military Personnel
Pupils whose parents/guardians are military personnel retaining ownership of a home in Montclair may be permitted, at the discretion of the superintendent, to remain in school without payment of tuition.
When a child must either relocate to or from this district because his/her parent/guardian is a member of the New Jersey National Guard or a member of the reserve component of the armed forces of the United States and has been ordered into active service, the child shall be eligible to attend the schools of this district without paying tuition. The district shall not be responsible for transporting the child.
Pupils who are on affidavit with Montclair residents may be permitted, upon approval of the superintendent, to attend the Montclair Schools without tuition payment.
Foreign Exchange Pupils
The board may admit foreign exchange pupils into district schools in order to promote cultural awareness and understanding among pupils.
The board may accept exchange pupils on a J-1 visa who reside within the district as participants in group-sponsored exchange programs approved by the board. Tuition may be waived for pupils on a J-1 visa.
The board may accept privately sponsored exchange pupils on an F-1 visa for attendance only in secondary schools upon payment of tuition at the established district rate. Tuition cannot be waived for pupils on an F-1 visa, and attendance in district schools shall not exceed 12 months. Pupils attending the schools of this district on an F-1 visa may not participate in any adult-education programs sponsored by the board under any circumstances.
All potential organizations or individuals applying for admission shall forward the request to the superintendent by July 1 preceding the school year of attendance. Foreign exchange pupils shall comply with all immunization requirements for pupils of this district. The superintendent shall be responsible for determining the visa status and eligibility of foreign exchange pupils applying for admission.
The district will determine the educational placement of homeless pupils in each child’s best interest and respond to appeals concerning them made by parents/guardians or other parties in accordance with New Jersey statutes and administrative code, as well as pertinent federal law.
Children under the Guardianship of the Division of Youth and Family Services
A pupil may be enrolled in the school district if he/she is under the guardianship of the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Human Services, and is placed in the district by said division. The board of education will require annual applications for such pupils and annual proof of the division's guardianship and placement.
In the case of adopted children, the board has the right to require additional information if there is any question concerning the completion of an adoption or the procedure followed.
Children Placed in the District by Court Order
A pupil may be enrolled in the school district if he/she is placed in the home of another person, who is a resident in the district, by order of a court of competent jurisdiction of New Jersey or by any society, agency, or institution incorporated or located in New Jersey having for its object the care and welfare of indigent, neglected or abandoned children, or children in danger of becoming delinquent, or any person who is a resident in any institution operated by any such society, agency or corporation, on a non-profit basis, whether or not such other person, society, agency or institution is compensated for keeping such person. The board of education will require annual applications for such pupils and annual proof of legal placement with a resident of the district.
Non-Resident Classified Pupils
Non-resident classified pupils may, if space is available in an appropriate program, and with the advance approval of the superintendent and the board, be enrolled as tuition pupils in special district programs. The placement must also be approved by the child study team. The tuition charged the sending district will be the per pupil cost of the program in which the pupil is to be placed.
Other Non–Domiciled Pupils
Other non-domiciled pupils may be admitted to this district on payment of tuition and availability of space after inspection of the pupil’s records and acceptance by the superintendent.
Non-resident parents or guardians who wish their child to attend the Montclair Public Schools and are willing to pay tuition costs must file an application for admission at the central office. The superintendent shall develop procedures for the enrollment of non-domiciled children that:
• Allow admission of such children only on the proper application of parent/guardian;
• Verify claims of domicile and submission of affidavits of guardianship;
• Deny admission where the educational program maintained for the children of this district is inadequate to meet the needs of the applicant;
• Provide for acceptance and school assignment on the basis of space availability and racial balance;
• Do not exclude any child, otherwise eligible, on the basis of such child's race, color, creed, national origin, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual or ancestry; and
• Make continued enrollment of any non-domiciled pupil contingent upon timely payment of tuition and the maintenance by the pupil of good standards of citizenship and discipline.
Each year, the district will provide to the person in charge of trans-portation a list of children who are permitted to ride the buses because they are residents.
Transportation for the seniors who are former residents and all tuition pupils shall be a parental responsibility.
Transportation for non-resident classified pupils will be the responsibility of the sending district.
The Montclair School District will not be obligated to transport any non-domiciled pupils nor will it incur any expense incidental to such transportation.
The board shall annually determine tuition rates for non-domiciled pupils.
The Montclair Board of Education reserves the right to refuse admission and/or continuation of any non-domiciled pupil in the Montclair Schools.
N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-3 Definitions
N.J.S.A. 18A:11-1 General mandatory powers and duties
N.J.S.A. 18A:36B-1 et seq. Interdistrict Public School Choice Program Act of 1999
N.J.S.A. 18A:38-1 et seq. Attendance at school free of charge
N.J.S.A. 38-2, 38-3, 38-8, 38-9
N.J.S.A. 18A:46-20 Receiving pupils from outside district; establishment of facilities
N.J.S.A. 18A:54-20 Powers of board (county vocational schools)
N.J.A.C. 6A:12-1.3 et seq. Interdistrict Public School Choice
N.J.A.C. 16A:17-1.1 et seq. Pupils at Risk of Not Receiving a Public Education
N.J.A.C. 6A:23-3.1 Method of determining tuition rates for regular public schools
N.J.A.C. 6A:23-5.2 Method of determining the district of residence
N.J.A.C. 6A:23-5.3 Address submission for determining the district of residence
N.J.A.C. 6A:28-2.1 et seq. Entitlement to Attend School Based on Domicile or
See particularly: Residency in District
N.J.A.C. 6A:28-2.3, -2.4, -2.5
Illegal Immigrant and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1997, 8 U.S.C. § 1101
Board of Education of the Borough of Englewood Cliffs v. Board of Education of the City of Englewood, 132 NJ 327; cert. denied, 510 U.S. 991 (1993); subsequent listing 333 N.J.Super. (App. Div. 2000)
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. 107-110, 20 U.S.C.A. 6301 et seq.
3240 Tuition income
*5114 Suspension and expulsion
6142.5 Travel and exchange programs
*6151 Class size
*Indicates policy is included in the Critical Policy Reference Manual.
Key Words: Nonresidents, Tuition Pupil, Affidavit Pupil, Foreign Exchange Pupils
Approved: May 1981, April 23, 2007, February 27, 2012
Revised: June 6, 1988, October 4, 1988, November 16, 1992, September 7, 1993, November 16, 1998, April 2007, February 2012