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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 11, 2019 10:57 AM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: School Residency Requirements
Soon I will reintroduce legislation that amends the Public-School Code to fix a loophole in the Public School Code treats parents and guardians different from non-guardians and non-parents in disputes over school residency requirements.

The idea for this bill arose out of events that occurred in Montgomery County in 2012. Parents were charged with a felony theft of services offense for sending their child to a school outside of the school district of their residence. This seemed too harsh to me, and the spirit of the current law reflects that.

Section 1302 of the Public School Code provides for a summary offense for non-guardians and non-parents who give false information in sworn statements. The penalties for the offense are the required payment of restitution and related court costs to the affected school district; a fine of up to $300; and/or up to 240 hours of community service. Unfortunately, the Code provides for a felony theft of services charge for parents and guardians who commit an identical act. This is simply unfair. There is no reason for the law to treat parents and guardians different from non-parents and non-guardians.

My bill would provide a penalty for parents and guardians who live wholly outside the boundaries of a school district and send their children to schools within them that is identical to the penalty for non-guardians and non-parents. Additionally, to provide a reasonable deterrent for would-be “boundary hoppers,” my bill would also provide for the following additional penalties for a second or subsequent offense:
  • The commission of a misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense;
  • Repayment of restitution and related court costs to the affected school district;
  • A fine of up to $1,000; and/or
  • Up to 500 hours of community service.
Lastly, prior to a child being removed from a school and a parent being subsequently charged because of an act of “boundary hopping,” the following must occur:
  • The school district’s board of directors, authorized board committee or designated hearing examiner must formally determine that an act of boundary hopping has occurred; and
  • The affected school district’s board of directors must determine that it does not wish to grant an exception to permit the child to attend the school pursuant to section 1316 of the Public-School Code (relating to permitting the attendance of non-resident pupils).
While the act of a parent misrepresenting the place of their residence to send their child to an outlying school district is patently wrong, irrespective of the parent’s intentions, such an act certainly does not warrant the imposition of a felony charge.

This bill was known as Senate Bill 664 during the 2017-2018 session.

Please join me in supporting this important legislation.

If you have questions about this legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Introduced as SB567