Harper Woods schools approves annual tuition fee

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published December 5, 2012

HARPER WOODS — Grosse Pointe Schools received a lot of attention for its work to keep out-of-district students from sneaking into the system, including approving a tuition charge for those who illegally enroll in the district, but they weren’t the first in the area to do it.

The Harper Woods School Board unanimously approved its annual tuition resolution for out-of-district students who are caught in the district illegally. It’s done so for several years now.

“This is something we’ve been doing now for probably … six or seven years,” School Board President Brian Selburn said during the Nov. 20 board meeting. “Grosse Pointe just did it this year, I think, for the first time and got all kinds of publicity for it.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said.

School Board Vice President David Kien emphasized that the district isn’t collecting tuition from resident students or those enrolled in one of the district’s programs that allows out-of-district students into the schools. It’s a resolution that sets the amount the district can charge at more than $13,000 for elementary-age students and a little more than $14,000 for secondary students, which are based on formulas according to state rules.

“This would apply to non-resident students who somehow sneak into our district that don’t come in through our limited School of Choice program, don’t come in through an alternative school, but sneak into our regular general school by tricking us on residency, and then we would be able to charge them tuition.

“In no way are we planning on charging any of our resident students a dime,” Selburn said.

School Board Trustee Joan Mannino said that the district hasn’t had to use the resolution so far to charge anyone for falsifying eligibility to enroll a student in the district.

“We’ve never collected in the past,” she said.

Yet, it may be due to having a tuition resolution on the books, Selburn said.

“It may have effectively scared some people away from sneaking  in,” he said. “That was the real purpose behind it; it is a preventative measure.”