LETTER: The school district’s investigation of fraudulent enrollment

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To the editor:
One year after several Oldham Era articles on this subject, let’s take a look back at the school district’s foray into law enforcement.
An assistant superintendent conducted surveillance of a Jefferson County resident for bringing his child to Oldham County schools.
Quoting from an Oct. 10, 2011, article in The Oldham Era regarding theft of the educational value, “… 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, (Assistant Superintendent Dan) 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.”
Let’s do the math. Assuming the remaining costs are covered by state funds, by chasing down and prosecuting these non-resident parents, the district is giving up — every day — $22.17 in actual state funds in order to not give away a theoretical $18.63 worth of educational benefits unpaid by local taxes.
According to the article, 45 families with 63 affected children were being investigated, which would bring the total to about $1,400 per day in actual state funds the district was chasing away. Then, at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, each of the thousands of law-abiding parents were greeted with one more registration hassle requiring proof of Oldham County residency — for the sole purpose of preventing the parental atrocity of non-Oldham residents sending their kids to the best public school available.
But the bigger picture is this. Rather than assign one or more of the 11 assistant superintendents — some with six-figure salaries — employed by Oldham County Schools in 2011 to the task of educating our children, the district deployed one assistant superintendent on a surveillance job.
Orman, the assistant superintendent assigned to the task, has spent — and will continue to spend — additional time in the courtroom to testify before grand juries and trials.
As a direct result of this side trip into “CSI”-land, the district is still mired in a civil suit filed by an Oldham County resident that was accused of theft of services and later cleared of the charges.
And who knows how much this costs in misspent resources and attorneys’ fees?
Let me suggest a name for this fiasco — Operation: Waste Taxpayer Funds. Who in the world thought this was a good idea?
Well, according to Orman in The Era’s October 2011 article, “Superintendent Paul Upchurch and the Board of Education are supportive and want us to investigate every case.”
Instead of supporting this side trip away from education, the board ought to be providing the oversight to keep this sort of thing from happening.
Having failed in that duty, could we now at least get them to add up the costs and benefits, and account to the public how this improved our children’s education? Based on the board’s past history, my guess is that accountability will not be seen.
The residents of Oldham County deserve better school district guidance than what the current board members are providing.
Dick Richards