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Posted at 07:29 AM ET, 06/06/2008

Enrollment First, Legal Requirements Later

D.C. school officials are facing a sea of uncertainties this summer. With dozens of schools closing, consolidating or facing federally mandated overhaul, figuring out just how many students will show up for the fall term has been a murkier-than-usual-exercise.

So D.C. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee thought it would be a good idea to get a jump on fall enrollment by starting the process of verifying where families live while school is still in session.

In recent days, DCPS parents began to receive enrollment packets in the mail. The problem is that according to District law, residency verification can begin no earlier than July 1. Thus did DCPS officials appear before the State Board of Education Wednesday evening with an "emergency request" to push the verification date up to, well, now.

The board granted the request with one member, Mary Lord, voting to deny. She said she was all for improving enrollment procedures, but was miffed about DCPS's cavalier attitude toward legal requirements.

"We have to respect the rules and the process," she said.

Asked why Rhee didn't first get clearance from the board, Rhee spokeswoman Mafara Hobson offered up the following:

"Each year our goal is to create a precise and efficient enrollment process that tops the pervious year. This year, that means enabling parents to verify residency beginning June 5 rather than July 1. While there's no specific factor that led to the emergency rule-making, the decision to do so will enable more District students to start the school year on time, which is an essential goal of both DCPS and the OSSE."

Yep, that's what she said.

Bill Turque

By Marcia Davis  |  07:29 AM ET, 06/06/2008

Categories:  Education

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