The D.C. attorney general’s office has filed lawsuits seeking more than $800,000 from four parents — including three who work for the District government — alleging they fraudulently enrolled their children in the city’s public schools while living in Maryland.
The complaints, filed Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court, are against a public charter schoolteacher and two employees of the D.C. police department. They come amid growing scrutiny of families who falsely claim they live in the District so that their children can attend the city’s public schools without paying the tuition required of nonresidents.
“District residents are properly enraged when they learn that parents who do not reside in the District are fraudulently sending their children to District Public and Charter Schools,” Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) said in a statement. “The Office of Attorney General will enforce the law and protect District taxpayers from having to foot the bill for students who do not live in the District.”
In one case, Racine’s office asserts that police employees Akila Johnson and Stephen Davis — both residents of Prince George’s County, Md., according to the lawsuit — sent their two children to D.C. public charter schools for two years without paying tuition.
Johnson is a civilian employee of the D.C. police and Davis is a detective, according to the complaint. The attorney general’s office is seeking $545,163 from the pair.
Johnson has two additional children, one of whom attended a D.C. public charter school for four years and another who attended for one year, the lawsuit states, and permanent legal custody of three more children who also went to public charter schools in the city. Racine’s complaint alleges that a total of seven children were illegally enrolled in D.C. schools including Friendship Collegiate Academy, Center City Public Charter School, Friendship Chamberlain’s elementary and middle schools.
In a separate lawsuit, attorneys allege that Prince George’s residents Duriel Cobb — a physical education teacher at KIPP Public Charter Schools in the District and former teacher at Miner Elementary School in Northeast Washington — and his ex-wife, Talaya Cobb, sent their two sons to the schools where Duriel Cobb worked. The attorney general’s office is seeking $293,949 in the suit against the Cobbs.
Davis and the Cobbs could not immediately be reached for comment. Johnson, reached by telephone, said she was not aware of the attorney general’s complaint.
“No one has been in touch with me,” said Johnson, who declined to discuss her children’s school enrollment. “I’m shocked. This is crazy.”
A spokeswoman for the police department said Davis and Johnson “remain on active duty.” D.C. Public Schools and KIPP did not respond to requests for comment.
Under D.C. law, authorities can seek triple the amount of tuition parents avoided by using a fraudulent D.C. address, leading to hefty fines.
But that has not deterred some D.C. government employees. In 2016, a judge ordered two married D.C. police officers to pay more than $500,000 in a school residency lawsuit. And a recent review of residency fraud cases by The Washington Post found that school system employees — including a celebrated former principal and a former teacher of the year — are frequently those who are accused of abusing the enrollment rules they are supposed to uphold.
D.C. parents have complained for decades about families who live outside the city using its public schools. But scrutiny of school residency problems has increased in recent months after The Post reported on an ongoing investigation by school officials into suspected enrollment fraud at Duke Ellington School of the Arts.