Thursday, December 05, 2002

Paid Informants

School district administrators in New Jersey will pay parents to turn in out-of district students.

These days, a truant officer's job goes beyond keeping kids in school. Some spend more time keeping out-of-towners out, sometimes by spotting bogus leases or trailing students home.

A few school districts are even going a step further, offering members of the public bounties of $100 or more for information on students who sneak across district lines.

Parents falsify proof-of-residence documents to get their kids into schools for their academic reputations, extracurricular activities or proximity to after-school care. Each illegal student costs a district thousands of dollars.

"I can understand why people might want to do it," said Piscataway, New Jersey, truant officer David Ford, whose district offers a $300 reward. "But it's not right."

It's not right. Children should have free exit and entry rights to schools rather than having to resort to desperate measures to get a higher quality education.

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