District suit alleges woman lived in Md., sent daughter to D.C. school

October 18, 2012

D.C. officials have filed a civil suit against the mother of a teenager who allegedly lived in Maryland while attending D.C. public schools for free, Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan announced Thursday.

Jacinta L. Mason and her daughter lived in Hyattsville when the teen enrolled in the District’s McKinley Technology High School in 2008, the suit alleges. Mason agreed to pay non-resident tuition, but then failed to keep up with the bills, and by November 2010 owed the city more than $12,000. Another defendant, Darnetta Paige, then falsely claimed that the girl was living with her in the District, authorities allege.

Paige, an employee of the Booker T. Washington Public Charter School for Technical Arts, also falsely claimed that she was the girl’s legal guardian, the suit alleges. The girl was allowed to finish her course work at McKinley and graduated this year, according to Ted Gest, a spokesman for the attorney general.

City officials want to compel Mason to pay $31,294 in unpaid tuition for those four years. They are also seeking to win at least $69,160 in damages and penalties from Paige.

Authorities said this is the first suit alleging falsification of student residency in recent memory.

Nathan said his office is working with D.C. public schools and other education officials to find other students who don’t live in the city and have wrongly attended its schools for free.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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