SOUTHAVEN Miss. — DeSoto County is looking to crack down on parents who forge documents to enroll their students in the district without living in the county.
County Supervisor Michael Lee is co-drafting an ordinance with other supervisors recommended by the school district to make it a misdemeanor to provide any false residency information while registering for school.
“If you want to participate in DeSoto County Schools move to DeSoto County pay your taxes like DeSoto County residents and you will be fine but once you falsify a document that is a crime,” Lee said.
It’s an issue he says has grown over the years.
“You have out-of-state people coming to DeSoto County schools,” Lee said. “You also have an issue with local counties.. like Tate County, Marshall County, and Tunica County.”
According to the county, DeSoto County Schools investigated 700 residency complaints last school year.
Currently, parents must show proof of residency to enroll their children. If you live with someone else, you must complete this residency affidavit that has to be notarized.
Lee said state law classifies falsifying school documents as a felony. However, this newly proposed ordinance would be considered a lesser penalty as a misdemeanor, meaning you could face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.
“It can affect not only the parent who falsified the affidavit but also the resident who allowed them to use that residence,” Lee said.
He said the biggest factor is costs.
“It could possibly be up to 10,000 to 12,000 per student,” Lee said. “The taxpayers of DeSoto County are the ones who are footing that bill and paying for these out-of-state kids to come to our school system.”
However, it appears some taxpayers are split on the issue.
“I don’t think it should be passed a 1,000 fine that’s already hefty.. folks are already trying to get their kids to better schools and a thousand dollar fine is really going to hurt people’s pockets,” said Lacy Scott.
“Everybody wants what is best for their kids. I wish there was another way maybe we could do a waiver.. or that people that live outside of the county could choose to send their kids here and maybe pay something,” said DeLena Beavers.
The board is expected to vote on the ordinance on June 19.