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How to Prevent Address Fraud in your Schools

One of the challenges that public schools face is ensuring that all enrolled students are registered with legitimate addresses. It has become increasingly common for parents to enroll their children in a school out of district with fake addresses. This might mean that parents are using a family member’s home address, information from an old home that’s within the district or an entirely falsified address.

Districts are noticing this problem within their schools and are cracking down on the issue, enforcing strict policies that include fees for families that get caught enrolling students with inaccurate addresses. After all, educating students who are illegally registered takes seats and funding away from students who live within the district. However, a lot of schools that use paper-based enrollment processes are having trouble confirming accurate addresses. This is why many schools are going digital with online solutions like SRC Solution’s Address Purification Gateway, which automates a process of confirming legitimate student addresses.

If you’ve been debating whether to invest in a digital solution to assist your staff with identifying falsified addresses, here are the answers to the questions you’ve been asking.

How much does address fraud really cost schools?
Address fraud that occurs for a long period of time without interference can end up costing schools millions of dollars. A report by nonprofit organizations Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Center for Popular Democracy found that fraud has cost U.S. charter schools over $200 million in recent years. According to the Washington Post, the 2015 report includes over $44 million from cases that happened before 2014, the 2014 total and the $23 million in new cases of fraud that have occurred since 2014.

The Washington Post also noted that while these figures only represent the money lost in the charter school sector, which educates around 5 percent of the students enrolled in public schools, the total loss for all schools due to address fraud throughout the U.S. in 2015 was about $1.4 billion. A large part of these wasted expenses include the estimated $2,500 spent on printing and mailing of student forms to incorrect addresses.

Ensure your schools are able to put funds toward student programs by preventing costly address fraud.

What are schools doing about the issue?
Officials from Chicago Public Schools have recently discovered several cases of address fraud in 11 of its highly-selective schools, explained Chicago news source DNAinfo. As a result, the district is sending a message to families that this illegal activity won’t be tolerated, charging families with out-of-district tuition fees that they believe to be the fair equivalent of the time and money they would have owed if enrolled correctly. For example, a student attended Payton High School for four years enrolled with a fake apartment address. Once this was discovered, the family was charged with a $45,000 non-resident tuition bill for the four years he attended. They’ve also implemented a life-time ban from all 11 schools for those caught.

“Fraud not only undermines confidence in the school system, it robs a deserving student of an important educational opportunity. With a lifetime ban, we are sending a strong message to parents that this fraud will no longer be tolerated and that consequences cannot be avoided.”

Forrest Claypool, CPS chief executive officer said in a press release, as quoted by DNAinfo.

Address fraud isn’t a problem limited to U.S. school districts. The Black Country and Staffordshire school districts in the U.K. recently reported finding 39 cases of address fraud over the past three years, according to the Express and Star. These students were removed from the school and residential students took their places.

What can you do to protect your schools?
Instead of hiring more staff members to closely monitor all of the new and existing student addresses, invest in an online solution that tracks student moves, performs an address analysis and validates data for you to catch any out-of-date addresses that would be hard to identify when assessing paper documents. Aside from lost time, man power and thousands in funding, address fraud also causes damage to schools’ reputations, which may encourage other families to enroll students with faulty information.

“If a district was to gain a reputation of not being particularly vigilant, there might be an invitation to other parents [living outside the district] to go ahead and bring your child in,” Jay Worona, general counsel to the New York State School Boards Association, told U.S. News and World Report.

The Address Purification Gateway will bring a high return on investment by cutting down on printing and mailing costs and saving funding for legally registered students. Don’t risk your district’s reputation by allowing address fraud to occur in your schools. Monitor both new and existing addresses with the Address Purification Gateway.

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How paperless solutions can help fix common problems within the US education system

Schools throughout the U.S. education system face common challenges that interfere with the quality of student learning. Online systems designed to enhance tasks like conference scheduling and organizing student cumulative folders can help schools reduce the impact of these issues. Here are two obstacles that paperless solutions can help schools overcome:

Poor parent involvement 
According to the Center for Public Education, research has shown that an estimated two-thirds of teachers believe their students would do better academically if their parents were more involved in their children’s education. Meanwhile, 72 percent of parents agreed that students with uninvolved parents were far more likely to “fall through the cracks” in school, as students with more attentive parents often receive the most attention from teachers.

Students whose parents are more involved in their education do better academically. Students whose parents are more involved in their education often do better academically.

School solutions can enhance parent involvement by making important student documents digitally accessible. Systems like SRC Solution’s Central Records Gateway offer parent-sharing features so they can log in from home and have updated documents like progress reports and behavioral assessments at their fingertips.

Automated conference scheduling systems, such as SRC Solution’s Conference Gateway, also increase parent participation in parent-teacher meetings, enabling parents to conveniently select an open meeting time online. This encourages parents to attend parent-teacher conferences, as it allows them to work around their own schedule and more efficiently plan ahead. They can also note specific questions or topics they want to discuss at the meeting so that the staff can better prepare beforehand and truly personalize and improve the quality of their parent-teacher relationships. This is important, as the National Education Association explained that only 48 percent of parents feel teachers hold efficient conferences, so detailing discussion points ahead of time can drastically improve the outcomes of meetings.

Lack of funding 
The Atlantic noted that recent reports have shown schools across the U.S. are expected to do more for their students with increasingly less government funding as the years go on. This has put a lot of pressure on schools to reserve the money they do have for important student programs and other essential needs. Going paperless can assist districts in cutting back on yearly expenses. According to Aiim Community, most organizations that do away with paper-based workflows save over $500 per person each year in supplies like ink, paper and printers.

Address fraud is another common issue experienced by K-12 districts that ends up taking key funding away from schools. If it goes unnoticed, address fraud can cost schools millions each year. For example, The Hechinger Report explained that schools in Beverly Hills, California – which deal with at least one case of registration fraud each month – are charging parents with $150 for every day that their child was enrolled illegally in their schools, as they believe this is a fair equivalent of the funding they lost as a result. SRC Solution’s Address Purification Gateway automates the process of identifying falsified addresses to ensure your district’s money is spent properly and residential students are receiving the education they deserve.

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