published Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Dalton Public Schools checking student addresses for the first time

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    Don Amonett, deputy superintendent for Dalton Public Schools

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DALTON, Ga. -- For the first time in recent history, Dalton Public Schools are checking to see whether students in the third, sixth and ninth grades live in the school district in which they are enrolled.

Superintendent Jim Hawkins told the school board during a regular meeting that the residence verification was well under way.

"It's an issue of taxpayers' dollars; it's a facilities issue," Hawkins said after the meeting.

Dalton schools have had enrollment increases in recent years, with 7,236 students enrolled this year compared with less than 7,000 in 2010.

The middle school is overcrowded, and the board will need to make a decision soon on how to address the issue.

This year officials expected to see enrollment numbers drop because of a lack of jobs in the area and the enactment of a new immigration law in July, but instead enrollment increased.

Hawkins said that in the past, officials verified where a student lived when he or she was enrolled in the school system, but no more checks were done.

The three grades in the verification process include about 2,000 students, according to Deputy Superintendent Don Amonett.

Out of those, about 200 students have not provided adequate proof of where they live, Amonett said.

The school system will send out letters requesting verification for the third time this week.

They also will make verbal contact with all parents, he said. Social workers also have made visits to homes to talk to parents.

If proper verification is not provided by Jan. 4, when students return after the Christmas holidays, the students will be asked not to return to school.

Parents then will have 10 days to provide the proper documentation before the students are withdrawn from the school system.

"We hate doing this. We aren't in the business of keeping students out of school," Amonett said.

Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at 706-980-5824 or mmartin@timesfreepress.com.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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ChattyCharles said...

I'm of the opinion that which local school a child chooses to go to should be up to their parents, but I can see where things get tricky legally with that idea. Best of luck to all involved on both sides of the story.

December 13, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
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