The Millburn Board of Education and a group of concerned parents are grappling with changes to language regarding a school district policy that governs the tuition charged to students who move out of the district before completing a full term.
An online petition started by former board member Noreen Brunini wants to charge a prorated tuition to the guardian of any student whose guardian moves out of the district during the school year but whose children are allowed to finish out the school year in Millburn as a “guest, nonresident student.”
The petition currently has more than 200 signers.
Millburn Board of Ed Policy Chair Raymond Wong sent a letter to media addressing the petition.
The board, Wong said, is looking to pass a more “stringent” policy that eliminates a senior loophole allowing twelfth grade students whose parents move out of the district to finish the year in Millburn without paying tuition.
“We as a Board would like to close the loop hole for seniors immediately, and we are always open to reconsider further tightening of the policy,” Wong wrote.
The district's proposed language reads: "Students whose parent(s) or guardian(s) have moved away from the school district on or after February 1 of the current school year will be permitted to finish the school year in this district."
Officials remove a chunk of text that would also allow seniors who are forced to move from the district to continue without paying.
The change.org petition asks doesn’t specify its prefered language but talks about the potential for parents to scam the system if the district proposal is enacted.
"Ironically this proposed language eliminates a district tradition most residents agreed with and retains a policy which it appears could allow fraud to occur within the school district," Brunini wrote in the petition.
Brunini continues: "[A] student’s family could rent an apartment/home in Millburn for a few months (Sept – January 31 or longer), move on/after Feb 1 to another town but stay in district schools tuition free for the remainder of the school year. Given the District continues to refuse to annually re-register all students, the following September the student who has moved to another town can easily continue on as a student in the Millburn Schools. Charging a tuition to students who move but are given permission to finish out the school year will help the District keep track of which students moved the prior year. It is also fairest to taxpayers and resident students."
Meanwhile, Wong stressed that the board was considering the changes to improve policy.
“We as board members consider policy language as a living document and are always open to suggestions, but our duty is get things done,” Wong wrote. “Our first step is to close the senior loop hole immediately.”