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43 families investigated by Oldham County school district

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School officials continue crackdown against fraudulent enrollment of Henry, Jefferson residents

By Tracy Harris

The crackdown on fraudulent enrollment continues in Oldham County this week, as the school district plans to file at least three more complaints with district court on Wednesday.

More cases may be filed this week if school officials are ready, according to Dan Orman, assistant superintendent of student services. As of Monday, two Jefferson County families and one from Henry County will be charged later this week.

"Superintendent Paul Upchurch and the Board of Education are supportive and want us to investigate every case," Orman said. 

"The numbers are growing due to the reliable information we're receiving from concerned citizens and our own staff members," he said.

Investigations for the 2011-12 school year currently number 43 families with 63 children. Of those, 18 cases with 25 children have been resolved, while the rest are pending.

On Monday, John Buehner, 40, pleaded of not guilty in district court. Buehner is charged with theft by deception. He is accused of sending his son to public school in Oldham County despite living in Jefferson County off Preston Highway. 

The house on Catheen Way, near the Louisville International Airport, is a 1,213-square-foot, one-bedroom home, owned by his mother, Marie Buehner. 

Orman said Buehner has been renting a house on Heatherbourne Drive in La Grange but not living in it when the school year started. According to documents filed with the court, Buehner's cost to the board of education and the residents of Oldham County is $596.16, for 32 days of school. 

Buehner's son remains enrolled as an Oldham County student because the district now believes they are living in the La Grange residence.

In both 2004 and 2006, Buehner was charged with failing to send his children to the Oldham County schools in which they were enrolled. In February 2004, Buehner's son had 21 unexcused absences, four unexcused tardies and 16 excused absences. He was given a three-month diversion program, during which time his son could have no unexcused absences. 

In 2006, he was charged with not sending his daughter to school after the district tallied 31 unexcused absences and 14 unexcused tardies by May. 

Buehner will appear back in court on Nov. 2 for a preliminary hearing, the same day Charles Lauron is scheduled.

Lauron was the first father charged with theft by deception this school year. The criminal complaint filed in August accused Lauron of enrolling his son in Oldham schools for the past eight years despite living in Lyndon. 

Lauron, 51, is accused of owing the school district just over $26,000. 

The son was removed from North Oldham Middle and enrolled in Jefferson County.

Property owner Donna Claggett was also charged, and has denied knowing her address was being used. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 19. 

When charged with theft by deception, the school district calculates the cost at $18.63 per day for each student. 

Per year, the cost to educate a student in Oldham County is about $7,140, Orman said. The local tax costs amount to $3,260.89, and is divided by the 175 days in a school year to come up with the daily cost.

The remaining expense is funded by the state, Orman said, and is paid according to enrollment, so the district does get that money for students falsely enrolled.

Until three years ago, the county did little to enforce residency rules. Now, parents who do not own their homes must sign a residency affidavit that includes the property owner's signature.

During the 2009-2010 school year, four families with 14 children were asked to leave the district. Last year those numbers rose to nine families with 13 children. 

Orman said the district will continue investigating cases as long as necessary.