Desoto County News

Supervisors to consider non-resident school enrollment ordinance

DeSoto County has some of the best schools in the state of Mississippi and the Mid-South region, as studies and surveys continue to point out. While that is a big benefit to those who live in DeSoto County, the largest school district in the state has had an ongoing problem making sure that students actually live in DeSoto County.

The problem has gone back over years, from the days when school staffers would check the license tags of vehicles dropping youngsters off to make sure those vehicles had plates from DeSoto County.  Schools were cracking down on student residency as far back as 2009, when proof of residency was being required to students to enroll in school. 

Back in April, Olive Branch police were ordered to check for non-resident car tags in local subdivisions after numerous complaints, while Mayor Ken Adams, through a bill authored by state Sen. Michael McLendon (R-Hernando), called on state legislators to draft a bill that would charge violators with a misdemeanor if they enrolled a non-resident child in a DeSoto County School District (DCS) school. The bill was offered but failed to advance past committee consideration in the state Legislature. 

Not having success at the state level, school officials Monday, June 5 went to the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors for help. 

DCS Supt. Cory Uselton explained to the board that in the last school year, residency officers investigated 700 residency complaints and residency checks remain a growing problem.

Each year, parents or guardians of DCS students must provide proof of residency to enroll their child in school. At the same time, they must submit a notarized residency affidavit stating that providing false residency information is a felony, subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to five years in jail. 

However, the problem is that pursuing a felony charge can take more than a year in court to prosecute, while a misdemeanor charge can be prosecuted faster.  

That is why school officials asked for, and supervisors agreed to consider, a county ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor to enroll a child in a school district where they don’t reside.  It would also penalize anyone who aids in the misrepresentation of residency.

The ordinance is currently being drafted and supervisors are expected to vote on it at the next board meeting on June 19.

“Right now, people know that their children will just be removed from school if they get caught,” Uselton told the supervisors. “If someone who owns property in DeSoto County allows a non-resident to use their DeSoto County address fraudulently to enroll out-of-county students, there are absolutely no repercussions for them.” 

Uselton said the measure would not prevent children with legal residency from attending DeSoto County Schools, but said the ordinance can be used as a deterrent.  

“We want people to know that it is a crime to provide fraudulent residency paperwork to our school district,” Uselton said. “We want every taxpayer dollar to be spent educating the children of DeSoto County residents. We appreciate the support of our Board of Supervisors.”

Supervisor Michael Lee responded on his Facebook page, saying non-DeSoto County residents have used loopholes and forgery to cheat the system and abuse the school system. 

“This change and ordinance (pending passage), will allow us to be fiscally prudent to the taxpayers of DeSoto County, and ensure we meet the educational needs of residents who actually reside and pay property taxes here,” Lee said.  

One thought on “Supervisors to consider non-resident school enrollment ordinance

  • Frank Ellington

    About time. Friends allowing children to falsely use their address should be cited.


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