WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Two employees inside DC Public schools are accused of scamming the system in the latest cases of residency fraud.
Kiana Bennett, a teacher at McKinley Technical High School in NE and her husband a former DCPS athletic director are being sued for $186,783 for unpaid tuition and penalties.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said during the 2013-2014 school year, their son attended Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School on Capitol Hill. The following school year, they sent both their son and daughter. The couple now live in DC but were residents of Hyattsville when their children attended DC schools.
“Parents who are D.C. taxpayers who are trying to get their children in these schools are rightfully outraged when they find out Maryland students are taking the seats their children should be in,” said AG Racine. “Fraud pays, only until you’re held accountable. You can’t run from the sheriff for too long.”
Tarkitta Sedgwick, a staffer at Dunbar High School in Northwest is accused of conspiring with Erika Parker of Bowie, Maryland to send her daughter to Dunbar 2012-2014 and part of the 2014-2015 school years. The lawsuit alleges the staffer not only lied about the student’s residency, she claimed she was the girl’s primary care provider. She lived in Upper Marlboro with her mother the whole time.
Twarnisha Peterson Stokes owes as much as $98,553 for allegedly sending her son to Hardy Middle School in Georgetown and then Wilson High School in Tenleytown from 2011-2015. They lived in Clinton, MD at the time.
The Attorney General has added more resources to fight residency fraud. In December the OAG filed suit against six Maryland parents for sending a total of ten children to DC schools, including highly sought-after schools like Capitol Hill Montessori and Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
The Deputy Mayor of Education Paul Kihn released a statement saying: "The District is committed to ensuring District schools remain accessible to Washington, DC residents.This requires a robust system of compliance and enforcement that the Bowser Administration has worked extensively to buildup in the Office of the State Superintendent for Education to ensure that public schools in the District, including DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools, are available, first and foremost, to bona fide residents of the District. We will continue to take steps to improve our practice and look forward to working with the Office of the Attorney General, schools, families, and the community to further improve our residency efforts."
Parents who know or suspect residency fraud can submit a tip to the OAG via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.