Dec. 4, 2014 Policy Sub Meeting


Policy Subcommittee
Thursday, December 4, 2014, 5:00 pm
Coddington Building
Mr. Paul Bregoli, Chair

  1. Welcome

  2. 2013-2014 Attendance & Residency Review - Ms. Maura Papile, Ms. Jill Green, Ms. Jennifer O’Brien, Mr. Matthew Ramponi

  3. Adjournment/Thank You!


Quincy School Committee
Policy Subcommittee Meeting
Thursday, December 4, 2014

A meeting of the Policy Subcommittee was held on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm at the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Noel DiBona, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Ms. Barbara Isola, Mrs. Anne Mahoney, Mr. David McCarthy, and Mr. Paul Bregoli, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Ms. Jill Greene, Ms. Jennifer O’Brien, Mrs. Maura Papile, Mr. Matthew Ramponi, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla,; Ms. Allison Cox, President of the Quincy Education Association; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Mr. Bregoli called the meeting to order at 5:00 pm. Senior Director of Student Support Services Maura Papile opened the presentation and introduced the Supervisors of Attendance: Matthew Ramponi, guidance counseling background; Jennifer O’Brien, veteran department member, social work background; Jill Greene, police background, juvenile court system experience. The team members skills compliment each other and they are improving efficiencies through documentation.

Ms. Greene outlined that the Supervisors of Attendance have many different roles and responsibilities, but the main roles are residency and attendance. Each supervisor works with assigned school sites and get to know families and provide interventions on attendance issues. Residency verification also happens throughout the year, both for new registrations and established Quincy Public Schools students.

Quincy Public Schools students, by law, must reside in Quincy for the majority of the time. The exceptions to the state’s residency law include homeless students and Chapter 74 programs. A student already enrolled in a Chapter 74 program who moves to a town not offering that program may stay enrolled at QHS with their new town paying tuition to Quincy. Under the McKinney-Vento Act, students who are homeless have the right to stay in the school they were attending if their parent/guardian so chooses.

Residency verification requests come through Central Registration and school sites; new registrations are flagged for insufficient sources of verification. Home visits are performed as needed for both new registrations or current students where mail has been returned or information becomes available. Sometimes students have moved within the city and need to register as an out of district student.

This year, the team is working on additional documentation for home visits. Ms. O’Brien said that changes have been made to what is acceptable as a proof of residency; leases, bank statements, driver’s licenses, and cell phone bills are no longer accepted. Utility, excise tax, or water bills, mortgage statements, pay stubs, or W2 forms are acceptable. Revised forms and documentation have been shared with Central Registration and all school sites. Some of the verification process is the intuition of the attendance officers; they may flag families for further follow up.

Residency Protocols were then shared by Ms. O’Brien. For active students with residency issues, the first step is a proof of residency request letter sent home requesting additional documentation. If the documentation is not provided, a home visit by the Supervisor of Attendance is scheduled. Students who are identified as non-residents are then discharged from the Quincy Public Schools and a discharge letter is sent home. The student’s cumulative files are prepared for transfer, including a copy of the discharge letter. The Supervisors of Attendance work with the students and families to make the transition as smooth as possible. They follow up to ensure the students are registered in the new school system in a timely fashion.

Since late August, 283 residency checks were completed for new registrations and active students. 384 home visits, including 42 night visits, have been completed to date. Night checks are the most effective way to verify active student residency and are conducted in collaboration with community police officers. Each night visit takes 2-3 hours and may include talking to neighbors.

In the 2013-2014 school year, 30 students were discharged as non-residents (17 high school, 7 middle school, 6 elementary school). Between August and November 2014, 19 students were denied enrollment based on residency and 12 students were discharged.

Mrs. Hubley asked what the time frame is for night visits, and they usually begin around 5:30 pm. For morning visits, attendance officers are there early to observe whether students are dropped off before school buses arrive. Mrs. Hubley asked if any of the community police officers are bilingual and several are and can assist with translation.

Ms. Isola asked about the definition of residency; Ms. Greene said the rule is where the student resides the majority of the time. It can be tricky when it comes to divorce and custody issues. Morning observations and night checks are important to establish where the child is sleeping. Ms. Isola asked if families appeal the discharge or registration denial. Appeals go to Maura Papile and but there is really no appeal once the documentation has been completed. With the exception of seniors in good standing, homelessness is the only issue that would allow a student to stay.

Mr. McCarthy asked about the proof of residency request letter and the time frame for response. Ms. O’Brien said the information is due within a week and if it is not received, the home visits are scheduled as soon as possible. Mr. McCarthy asked about the residency hotline, only one referral this year. Most referrals come from returned mail, some turn out to be delivery errors on the part of the post office. Mr. McCarthy asked about the 30 students discharged, how many families were involved. There was at least one family of three students. The Aspen system allows for students to be identified as siblings and this assists the attendance officers for residency and attendance family interventions.

Mr. Bregoli asked if the Attendance Officers are ever refused admittance and none have had their experience. Mr. Bregoli asked if we have ever levied the fine. The Attendance Officers will inform parents or homeowners of the law and the potential fine and this is sometimes information that resolves situations.

Mr. Bregoli is glad to see that the law has been added to the RV1 form. Mr. Bregoli asked whether homelessness is a limited period. Mrs. Papile said with the shelter situation in the state, families are sometimes homeless for several years. We look at each case individually and Ms. Bridson works with families to make sure the children are in the best situation possible, sometimes assisting with transition to a local school system at the end of a school year. Mr. Bregoli asked about transportation and QPS is required to transport homeless student. Ms. Greene said there is collaboration with DCF about student success in school, are there attendance or discipline issues and we try to assist families to make decisions in the best interest of the student(s).

Mr. Bregoli said the Attendance Officers are also involved in the courts and student support teams at each school. Ms. Greene said that they attend Student Support Team meetings to talk about high risk students, conduct and behavior issues. Truancy laws have changed and 8 or more days absent in a term requires interventions, home letters and visits. If things don’t improve, Family Assistance is the last step before going to court. Family Assistance meetings might involve staff from DCF; every option is explored before going to Family Court. Parents can be summoned to court for Failure to Send, where students have excessive absences.

Judges have acknowledged that Quincy does the most in Norfolk County to intervene and document and that court is the last resort. Mr. Bregoli asked if the Attendance Officers court involvement has increased. Ms. O’Brien said it is a scheduling issue, not that there are more cases, but there are now four days per week where there could be a court date. Mrs. Mahoney asked if when court dates are given, are there times scheduled. The Attendance Officers said there are not scheduled times, they could be there all day.

Mrs. Mahoney asked about homeless students and Mrs. Papile said the current census is 183, down from 210 last year. Mrs. Mahoney asked when homeless families transition back to housing, do they stay in Quincy. Mrs. Papile said most prefer to do so if they can. Ms. O’Brien said that once they have signed a lease, we no longer are tracking them. Mrs. Mahoney asked if students move within the city, they are sometimes out of a school district and can they stay at the school they have been attending. Mrs. Papile said the next step is to request “a remain at school” placement through her office and she works with the principals on these requests.

Mrs. Mahoney said this a lot of work for the three Attendance Officers, many different scenarios for families, so much work to unravel for the 3% of our population that is affected by these issues. Mrs. Mahoney asked if Aspen is assisting with their work. Ms. O’Brien said in Aspen, reverse address checks are possible and Aspen is much more helpful than the previous system.

Mr. DiBona said the Supervisors of Attendance are doing a great job, handle many complex situations. He asked if there is a pattern of where the discharged students are from: Weymouth, Braintree, Randolph are common towns, but there is no pattern. Sometimes Attendance Officers travel out of town for night checks. For this year’s discharged students, the majority were high school students. Mr. DiBona asked about the MBTA stations, do we note students coming from the train. Mrs. Papile said in the past, it has been problematic because students from within the city and homeless students commute on the train, also students are commuting to Quincy College. Past efforts concentrating on the MBTA yielded no students from outside Quincy. Ms. O’Brien said we have students living in motels in Boston commuting to Boston, there are privacy issues. The Attendance officers focusing time and efforts on the early morning and night checks has made the difference.

Mrs. Papile said the work done to deny registration in the first place is better for families in the long run. It is disruptive to students and families to have to discharge students. Mr. Bregoli asked about students living with grandparents or other relatives. There is a form that must be filled out to release educational rights and that person must attend conferences, disciplinary issues. Ms. O’Brien said that most families are cooperative, understand their job.

Mr. Bregoli asked for clarification that each school has the updated forms and protocols; Mrs. Papile said these will be reinforced by school visits to each site. Ms. Greene said they have a good rapport with the office staff in their assigned schools. Mr. Bregoli asked about a long-standing student, flags might include returned mail, increase in tardiness, or other signals.

Mr. Bregoli asked about the idea of re-registration at each transitional level, but it is unwieldy administratively. He would like to see schools do a welcome letter to new students and follow up with letters that are returned. Dr. DeCristofaro said that there are discussions about doing a systemwide mailing after school opens.

Mr. Bregoli said he appreciates how the process has been tightened up. He noted that the three attendance officers are busy, so perhaps an additional position would be appropriate to consider. He said they clearly are going above and beyond the school day, with morning and evening home visits.

Ms. O’Brien said they enjoy the opportunity to update School Committee, and thanked Maura and Dr. DeCristofaro for their support.

Ms. Isola made a motion to adjourn the Policy Subcommittee meeting at 6:15 pm. Mrs. Hubley seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.