27 answers

Using a Different Address So Your Child Can Attend a Better School

Hi Moms. My daughter will be attending kindergarten in the fall. Obviously, my neighborhood has a public school that I could send her to, but it is a very low performing school. My daughter is very intelligent and I want her to be in a school that develops that. I live in Massachusetts which has the School Choice Program. I had been planning on applying to the program and sending her to a great school near my work. I just received word that that school is not accepting elementary level children. I am devistated! I called other schools and many of them accept 1st graders, but not kindergarteners. I do have another option though. My parents live in a very good school district. I could send her to that school by claiming that I live with them. I even can produce the proof they school asks for. I do not feel comfortable lying, but I want her to attend a good school. Has anyone else done this? Has it affected your kids negatively that they have to lie about were they live? Has anyone ever gotten caught? If so, what are the consequences? My other alternative it to send her to Catholic school. I am not thrilled about that option because of the cost and because I am not a devout Catholic. I woild bank most of my money to try to move to the area where I would be sending her to school, but that will take time. I just don't know what to do. Please help!

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So What Happened?™

Hi Everyone - Thank you all for you advice. Most of you gave me very helpful, honest advice which I deeply appreciated. Some gave very mean, rude responses. I see this a forum where moms can come to get other mom's opinions without judgement. Please be kind as well as honest when you respond to people's questions. So, I finally have resolved my problem. I found one school in the area that accepted School Choice applications for kindergarteners and I submitted an application. There were more applicants that there were spots, so it went to a lottery drawing. I was informed that my daughter got a spot and would be able to go to school in that town until she graduated high school. I was so happy I cried. Before finding out this information, I had already decided to do the right thing and not lie. I was never comfortable with the thought of lying. I was prepared to send her to a private school and pay thousands to do so. Instead, my daughter gets to attend an excellent public school district and it was all done legally. I am so happy with how everything turned out.

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I think it's unethical. Work with what you have, where you have it. If it's unacceptable, make a change.

And, seriously, kindergarten? It will be fine. Use this year to make a plan and move.

3 moms found this helpful

We did this when I was in elementary. My dad found a nice school for me to go to and then lied about where we lived. About 1/2 way through the school year, they (someone in the office) took me out of class and asked me my address. When I gave them to one we said we lived at they kept pushing on that we didn't live there. Being 6 or 7--I broke and was kicked out of that school and ended up having to finish the rest of that grade and all remaining elementary grades at the school I was zoned for.

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I live in a great school district and we pay HUGE taxes to live here. We made the sacrifice to live in a smaller house with less stuff so that we could send our kids to these schools. We did our research before we purchased our house and we support the school district when ever they need more operating money, from levy's to school income tax hikes. It is expensive to live here and we could have double our square footage and had a huge yard if we moved into a less stellar school district.

Every single year, there are children whose parents made a choice to live in a bigger house, with more stuff, who send their children to school here by lying about where they live. Pure and simple, it is stealing, and our school spends some of my hard earned tax dollars to hunt down these cheats and kick their kids out of school. EVERY year, several of these poor inocent children are embarrased and devistated because their parents were unethical. It is not the kids fault, but they pay the biggest price. The concequences are not so big for you, but they are for the kids.

Our schools pay far more than the national average per child, over $11,000 each, so we get what we pay for here, and children whose parents don't pay in, should not be getting this windfal. Public education is not free. We pay for it, and if you want your kids to go to a better school, move into the district even if you have to take a finicial hit to do so, but don't steal because it is easier. I wish that our school district would prosecute these theives and seek reimbursment from the parents for tuition and the cost of hunting them down.

I am being blunt because this is reality. Make the sacrifiece to move or pay for private school, but set an example for you child and don't steal her an education.

M.

9 moms found this helpful

Don't do it! I went to one of the best public high schools in the country and everyone wanted in. There was a kid in my class whose parents cheated/lied to get him in. Well, someone tipped off the school. The principal followed him home after school, getting on the same bus he did. This kid was kicked out of our school senior year. Everyone knew and everyone thought and said horrible things about his family. Cheating and lying to get your child into a particular school sets a really bad example and the consequences will be immediate and affect your child significantly when you're caught.

I went to one of the worst elementary schools, on the other hand, and still got a great education. Things there only got bad when they moved junior high into elementary to save money and I got bullied, but that was much later down the road. My early years there were good ones and even with the low test scores there, I was able to learn a lot and do really well in the top high school after we moved.

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Is not one part of your daughter's education the ethics and morals she sees adults model? Do you really want to model fraud and ends-justifies-the-means behaviors? You are uncomfortable with lying because you know it is wrong, so don't do it.

**No, I have not been faced with the prospect of sending my own children to an underperforming school, but my parents had 5 kids and did not trust the schools in their district, so they cut all unnecessary expenses and sent us all to Catholic school for 13 years. They have owned their home and paid taxes on it since 1978 but have never utilized the public school system. The funding formula for public education takes into account the fact that not all tax payers will be using the schools. When people defraud the public school system, they only cause higher taxes for those who are already paying into it. This is why it is illegal!!**

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K.,
I'll tell you this. I wouldn't do it. When my children were in kinder (they all had the same teacher) I saw it happening every year in their kinder class. Now you need to remember that kinder is a very important grade for your daughter, she needs to learn her address and phone number. Do you want to teach her both? it's hard enough for them to learn one address and phone number, imagine two and then and on top of that you'll have to tell her to lie about it when they ask her in school! Because the teacher will test them to make sure that they know their address. If she says the wrong address when being questioned imagine how she'll feel!!! and the embarrassment you'll go through. You don't want to confused your daughter any more than she is already is or will be!!
So, if I was you I wouldn't do it. Oh, and just for the record I went through the same situation as you with the school system, and I prayed and prayed and prayed!!! and thank God we had good teachers for the exception of one. When my oldest was starting 4th grade, my husband and I talked about either sending him to private school or moving. Since we couldn't afford the private school, we sold our house and moved to a better school district.
Don't give up, go check the school out, the secretaries, the principal, the teachers, make yourself known to them. Volunteer if you can in her class so you can have a better feel of the teacher and how they teach. Do all you can, but please don't put your daughter through an uncomfortable situation.
Blessings

5 moms found this helpful

This is a very slippery slope!! You said you can produce the proof, do you really know just 'how well' they investigate? Where I live they take it very serious, it's called fraud. We moved to a new school district before my son was to start 3rd grade. We had to fill out the usual enrollment forms and were told to bring a utility: water,gas or electric bill with our address on it. But what they don't tell you is they check (on the spot) the public records/ county assesors office to see if the address you are supplying is "owned in your name" or if any other properties with different addresses come up with your name. So, if you "use your proof" to get her into the better school, could they then find out you actually "own" a house with another address. In this district, if you "rent or lease" you have to have a signed/notarized affidavit that you rent or lease and the person filling out this form must be the one stated as the owner of the propery as listed in the public records thru the county assesors office.

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I understand wanting your child at the best school possible and if she can start in 1st grade then there won't really be any harm in attending one year at the school in your area. You can do things at home to enhance her education as well.

You will be teaching your child at a very young age to lie. At her age she is too young to understand the differences in a lie. While your intentions are very good and only coming from love for her, it is still a lie. She will learn soon enough how to lie but don't let that lesson come from you or let that lesson be confirmed by your actions.

5 moms found this helpful

What kind of message does this send your child - that it's okay to lie and be dishonest to get ahead in life?

Also, please keep in mind that if you were ever to get caught the school district would have every legal right to bill you the per pupil cost of attendance for all the time your daughter spent in the school while you were not in district and not paying taxes. Depending on the average per pupil cost per year, you could be looking at thousands of dollars.

You need to do the right, ethical, and honest thing. Don't be a bad example for your daughter by being a liar.

5 moms found this helpful

I'm not sure how it works in your area, but here this is how it works here. The school system has a "task force" who checks up on things like this. If there is ever any "leak" that she doesn't live @ Grandma's house, they will actually investigate...as far as doing a home interview and inspection. Also if someone gets "cought" allowing another person use their address, the homeowner/resident can actually be charged with a misdomeaner.

Keep in mind that you will be asking you 5 year old to lie to everyone. Whenever someone asks her where she lives, she will have to say Grandma's house is her home. What message is that sending to her? She is not old enough to understand that it is for her own good. We all do things we're not proud of sometimes in order to give our kids what we feel is better for them, but personally, I think it crosses the line when we have to involve our children in the deceiving.

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First, she will not lose anything by attending kinder in your zoned school - sorry to say, but it is just kindergarten. Saying that, if she attends the Catholic school, that should be fine too, again, it is just kindergarten. While she is in kinder, that will give you time to find another place in the area you would prefer. You can provide academic activities to keep her challenged and work with the teacher to help ensure her success. As a parent of a 3rd and 6th grader with the 6th grader having had issues in kinder, in the big picture, now looking back - it was no big deal.

UPDATED: Another thing to consider, I don't know about MA but in Texas, kinder is not a requirement. You could also home school her for kinder - there are a plethora of resources on-line.

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As a teacher and a parent living in a system in MA that is phasing out the choice option, I do really understand where you're coming from. And I don't think that you should lie. As other posters have said, it's kindergarten. If you're worried about your daughter's physical safety going to that school, send her to private school until you can get her into the choice program or move. An underperforming school for kindergarten won't hurt her ultimate academic success - in fact the biggest thing that makes a difference is how involved parents are, and clearly you're involved and invested in her education.

If this were high school, I would tell you to move right away or go the private school route, but it's not. Take this year to figure out how you can get her the best possible education without lying. After all, if worst comes to worst, she can always repeat kindergarten at another school - lots and lots of kids do that. Good luck with your decision,

3 moms found this helpful

We did this when I was in elementary. My dad found a nice school for me to go to and then lied about where we lived. About 1/2 way through the school year, they (someone in the office) took me out of class and asked me my address. When I gave them to one we said we lived at they kept pushing on that we didn't live there. Being 6 or 7--I broke and was kicked out of that school and ended up having to finish the rest of that grade and all remaining elementary grades at the school I was zoned for.

3 moms found this helpful

I think it's unethical. Work with what you have, where you have it. If it's unacceptable, make a change.

And, seriously, kindergarten? It will be fine. Use this year to make a plan and move.

3 moms found this helpful

You have no idea how wel they investigate over things like that! When my parents were getting divorsed my mom did something similar bc she was scared of my dad! I was in high school and it was hard! A young child should not be expected to 1)remember what to tell them when teh question her (and they usually do) adn 2) might slip up and tell one of her new friends whats going on. All it takes is for a teacher or someone to hear her say she doesn't live with grandma and grandpa or to say something that could prove you dont live with them! The entire time I lived there I was watched and thank God at that time I had great friends bc I was never home lol! Don't lie about this or have your daughter lie. They pick up on things and lieing should not be one of them! Try a private school or a church school. If its money your worried about church schools usually have scholorships you can get. Were I live we have Catholic, baptist, luthern and methodist schools! Good luck and I hope you make the right choice for your family.

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We have a school within walking distance from our home; but it is also a low performing school. I agree with another mom on charter schools. We decided to enroll our daughter in a charter school which is about a 10 minute drive away. National Heritage Academies are excellent and they are all over the country.

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Don't lie, it's wrong on so many levels. Have you considered homeschooling for a year?

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Personally I am of the opinion that yeah, while it's not fair, this is your child's education and you have to do what you have to do.
However, I would be very concerned about putting my daughter in a position where she would basically have to lie about where she lives. That's just wrong.
So I would suggest that you send her to private school for one year (K) and then do your best to get her into a better school. There has to more than one good school in your district...see what your acceptable alternatives would be if you can't get her into the school of your choice.
You must be informed about how your choice program works and make sure that you meet all the deadlines! I have a good friend who is a teacher and she says that the biggest obstacle kids face for getting into choice schools and talented programs is that their parents are unaware of the process.
Good luck!

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Dear K.,

If you are unconfortable lying, don't do it. If your daughter lives with your folks through the school year and visits you evenings and on weekends, that would not be lying.

Blessings...

2 moms found this helpful

Oh, I have a feeling the deception would come back to haunt you personally. If it were me, I'd not make that choice.

I'd either see if there are charter schools that you could send her to, put her in a private school (not necessarily faith based), see if there are any other options.

And, since you said you did find some that take 1st graders, would it be that bad to have her in the Public School's kindergarten for 1 year if you'd be able to transition her to a different school the following year?

Also, see what you can do with local politicians - you may be able to get a state senator or representative to go to bat for you if there's really a concern regarding the quality of the education your daughter might receive.

Good luck!

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Hi! Hard choice, but agree with the ethics you instill at this age is the most important lesson they can learn. Even though they are young they know right from wrong. My son who is in K, proclaims all the time of being "As honest as honest Abe". He learned about presidents in school. He takes great pride in that, and it would be horrible to instill guilt for him at such an early age. Also, at his school one of the first things they learn about is personal safety... knowing their address and phone number. They memorize it, write it, talk about it a BUNCH! It is bound to come up! I agree, there are other options, and extra help at home can keep your daughter where she needs to be. Kumon books are GREAT... Target sells them!! PS. I find a bunch of K to be repeat of pre-school. Not worth the risk for redundant info!! Good luck!!

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I agree, since it is kindergarten, your child should do just fine.

Find out why the school is labeled low performing. We are in an excellent are with highly rated schools, but a few years ago through "no child left behind", students were allowed to transfer into one of these schools. Many were way below level, when the end of the year TAKS test was given, many of them did really well, but because of a few students, the school ended up being rated unacceptable.

It was really sad, because the majority of these kids, really worked hard and had come so far.. Our school is still trying to overcome this because you can imagine, neighborhood parents, started yanking their kids out and sending them to private schools..

Of course we keep reminding them, Your child will always do well. The kids that struggle are not in the same learning groups or advanced classes that the students that struggle are placed ..

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How about sending her to the Catholic school for kindergarten...and then apply to the program as soon as you can to get her qualified for 1st grade?

I don't think you should lie...but I do feel your pain because I will face a similar situation in the next couple of years.

1 mom found this helpful

We have used other family members addresses to do this and it's no big issue. Especially in Kindergarten. She'll be learning her address so you'll need to teach her your parents. When someone knows there are issues with a local school it makes sense to not put your child in those situations. If you are going to move then consider moving into the school district your parents live in and that way if anything comes up you can honestly say you are in the midst of a transition and in the process of relocating. Another thing is that you can put her in child care in that area and then enroll her in the school the child care center takes kids to.

By the way, horrible examples to teach children are things like shooting up crack, being an alcoholic, sleeping with different partners every few weeks, telling the school system that you are trying to move and have to use your parents as babysitters and they need her in their school area so they can drop her off and pick her up is not a big deal.

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No it's not ok. If it is just the academics that you are concerned about your daughter is not going to fall behind kids at other schools if she is only there for a year or two. If it's really that far below her level then look at kindergarten as an opportunity for her to gain independence and social skills, then continue to work with her nights and weekends at her level to keep her skills up. She'll be fine.

If it's a safety issue then I'd go with the Catholic school for a couple of years.

Good luck,
K.

1 mom found this helpful

I understand your predicament with academics. I agree with Laurie, find out why they are labeled--the school has a public report they can share. Also, consider socialization. She will be making friends with the kids she goes to school with, and you/she will be wanting to make playdates and carpool with the neighboring friends. If she doesn't live in the neighborhood, that makes the socialization harder.

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You should do whatever is best for your child. You can always count on people to give you the self-righteous response, but at the end of the day, they can care less what happens to you, your child, or his/her possibilities in life - of which attending a decent school is essential. Honesty is an important trait to develop, as it instills trust, but I have yet to meet anyone who is 100% honest, because the fact of the matter is that all of us use deceit when it's important. It's a survival mechanism.

If you can claim the address and show the proper paperwork, I suggest you do so. You already understand that there will be some who in their self-righteous zeal will claim that you are "stealing," even though your parents are pay taxes to the school from which they don't benefit. So, of course, you are going to have to cover yourself by having the proper "official" paperwork required by the school system as proof of residency, telling your child(ren) which address they are to use for school, and becoming engaged in your child's school so that you can head off and spot potential problem parents and school official and head them off. It sounds like a lot of work, but it sounds like you are already willing to sacrifice for your child's future. Do what you have to do. Your children will thank you when they realize that they could have been crippled early in their life and you did what was necessary to protect them.

Good luck.

There is another option, filing papers so that your parents are her guardians. Then you wouldn't have to worry about lying, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter who's house she slept at. We live in Missouri, but when my oldest grandchild was born we filed paper for guardianship of her so she would have insurance, our lawyer told us that we could file for health reasons only, so that's what we did. The cost was about $800, lawyer fees. Maybe you could explore this option and get her in the school legally.

Alot of parents have done this. But i'm not going to lie your mistake was putting your intentions online you never know who will see it. but you have to think what is best for your daughter. i understand you plight being a resident of Detroit where are school system is not the best but other schools right across the county line are excelling. I think this is a personal judgement call. I wish you lubk==ck and prayers!

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