A suburban Pittsburgh school district is reviewing whether it should continue paying for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's children to be educated through a "cyberschool" even though the senator and his family live in Leesburg.
Penn Hills has spent $100,000 educating the Republican senator's children through an Internet-based school since 2001-02, said Erin Vecchio, a school board member who requested the review. She is the head of the local Democratic committee.
"I'm concerned because [he is] taking away from my kid," Vecchio said. "I'm sick of this man saying that he lives in Penn Hills when he doesn't."
Santorum's spokeswoman, Christine Shott, said she did not know if the senator and his wife, who have six children, have ever resided in the two-bedroom house they own in Penn Hills.
The Santorums bought the house for $87,800 in 1997, and it was assessed for $106,000 last year, records show.
The couple's home in Leesburg was assessed at $757,000 this year, tax records show.
Under Pennsylvania's 2002 cyberschool law, the district in which a student lives must pay the cost of tuition for students enrolled in cyber charter schools. Virginia has no such provision.
Vecchio asked the school superintendent to conduct a formal review at a board meeting last week.
"As we would do in any case for any citizen if there is a question of residency, the staff is looking into it," Penn Hills Superintendent Patricia Gennari said.
Shott said the senator, in his second term, is a resident of Penn Hills and pays taxes on the property. She said she didn't know whether the family ever stays at the home or if the family rents it out.
Shott said Santorum was not available to comment.
It is not unusual for U.S. senators to have homes in or near Washington. At 46, Santorum is the fifth youngest member in a chamber where the average age is 64. Most of his colleagues don't have to worry about where to send their children to school.
The Penn Hills Progress, a weekly newspaper, first reported last month that the district was paying for the Santorum children to take classes through the cyberschool.
Vecchio, who has been on the school board for eight years, said she has known for years that the district paid for the children's schooling. She is the only member of the nine-member board to request an inquiry.