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Carpenter Hammers Out Plan to Combat Enrollment Fraud

Enrollment jumps to more than 1,000 and there just isn’t enough space—and potentially 210 children are in the school illegally.

An emergency meeting of more than 70 concerned teachers, parents and community members met for more than three hours Friday afternoon to figure out how to curb fraudulent enrollment into Carpenter Community Charter School.

“I love this school, I know you all love this school, but we have to do something about the families that have enrolled their students into our school fraudulently,” said Principal Joe Martinez.

Parents are concerned that their main reasons for becoming a charter-affiliated school in 2010—enhanced enrichment classes and smaller class sizes—are being lost with an additional 10 percent increase in enrollment, now totaling 1,009 students.

“We have identified possibly 210 children who do not live in the neighborhood,” Martinez said. “Their families may have committed fraud in coming to our school by saying they live in the neighborhood.”

When the school became a charter-affiliated school with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the idea was to allow more local control of the school curriculum and class size. The plan was to reach a maximum of 900 students within five years. In the meantime, the Studio City elementary became a much-sought-after place to send your child because of their ever-increasing test scores (941 this past year)—and always among the highest in the district.

And so, the list of 144 Kindergarten students coming into the school last year grew by 66 students this year. And, Martinez said already 105 students have applied as new students for next year. 

“We did not anticipate such a big growth,” the principal said. “It put us all into shock and we have been responding to it ever since.”

Parents are concerned that it’s only February, and more than 100 additional students have applied to a school where there’s hardly any green space left, and some class sizes are already exceeding the LAUSD maximum standards of 24 students per classroom for the lower grades. The district is also proposing to increase the fourth and fifth grade class sizes to 36 students per classroom—again, very much against the wishes of the parents and teachers who pushed so hard for Carpenter to become a charter affiliated school.

At the present rate, Carpenter could expect to have more than 200 new students next year, Martinez predicted. “We do not have anywhere to put them,” he added. 

“We are implementing some procedures to put a stop to this,” Martinez said.

Carpenter is using an automated online application process now and they are monitoring addresses to verify residential status. People living in the Studio City area of course automatically get into the school, and non-residents are considered entry to the school through a lottery system if there is enough space.

One day a week since last November, the school has hired a Public Service Attendance counselor to help verify student addresses. Martinez and the counselor have both made spot inspections to 45 homes and found seven students who didn’t live at their official addresses. The students transferred. 

If mail sent to the official student's address and gets returned to the school, that sets up another red flag, Martinez said. 

“We are also using technology to help us verify addresses of the current enrollees,” Martinez said.

The school is using LexisNexis database to check names against public records and see if a family member is being used for an address improperly.

A cursory check identified 121 families in six grade levels that failed three basic record tests through the LexisNexis search. In addition to that number, the district identified 67 students who were in the school illegally, according to Martinez. However, LAUSD has not removed any students and the school cannot hire an outside agency to do so, he said.

The sense of urgency was evident at the meeting, which Martinez said “is the most attendees I’ve seen come to a committee meeting in three years.”

New Kindergarten parent Erich Gerencher, who is on the Enrollment Committee, said he had more than 50 detailed comments about the enrollment issues and one of the biggest concerns was that teachers and staff be allowed to enroll their children into the school, too.

Teacher Fabienne Melkanoff was concerned about “the possibility of teachers leaving Carpenter due to the abrupt U-turn in practice of allowing teachers to bring their children to Carpenter as students.” The committee did vote to ask the school’s Governance Council to consider enrollment priorities for all staff families.

Parents noted that the administration at Colfax Charter Elementary School in Valley Village recently requested proof of residency for all their students. They suggested doing the same at Carpenter.

Parent Sarah Barrett suggested “showing two photos of houses and asking the children to identify theirs, and if they can’t pick the one that is their address, then that’s a problem and they’re gone.”

The school may be changing their enrollment deadlines and School Tour dates in order to better verify proper school enrollment.

The information will be posted as soon as it’s decided on their website at www.carpentercharter.org

Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 01:12 AM
grammar school children
Barbara February 04, 2013 at 01:20 AM
I did not miss the point! Of course this is California after all!!
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 01:26 AM
You don't express yourself very well. What does "this is California after all" mean? Sounds like you have a problem with California. Go somewhere you like.
John February 04, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Yah! Send'em all back to where they came from and GET OFF MY LAND!!! (that my ancestors stole legally)
John February 04, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Go Sheri go!
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 05:37 PM
As one of the 1% it's wonderful watching poor and middle-class liberals destroy their children's public education. I think it's hilarious watching liberals realize they have sacrificed their own children. They voted for people that support illegal immigration. What do you get? A diluted tax-base with less money for education on a per-capita basis. They also teach ethnic studies and liberal propaganda instead of math and science. You have ensured that my kids going to PRIVATE school will have advantages over your kids. Thanks so much for caring about illegal children and my children instead of your own. Haha!
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Racists comments show stupidity. Good idea to send your children to private school, hopefully they will not be as ignorant as you are. Children are not illegal. Clean up your brain and mouth and go away.
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 06:03 PM
What's racist is sacrificing black children to push your liberal agenda to import new democrat voters. Math isn't racist, but liberals only teach, "ethnic studies". In California 67% of the tax is paid for by 5% of the people. So, if you import millions of people that don't generate taxes on a per-capita basis at the same rate, you have diluted the tax-base. Simple math. You are the racist, you hate black children.
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 06:09 PM
blah ... blah ... blah... so much nonsense. Every human being is "ethnic" and who is "importing" people?
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Liberal policies have encouraged illegal immigration. This illegal immigration has had the highest cost on people that use the finite amount of social services that are available. People like you hate AMERICAN black people so you don't care if their children are uneducated. Rather than using American resources on our own poor and middle-class, you are sacrificing them to get some voters. You are a racist Sheri.
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 06:28 PM
OK, 1%, you have lost me. I have nothing to do with getting voters. I like Hispanics, Blacks, Whites, Asians, etc. and don't want to see any child forced to pick their home from pictures in order to attend a school. The overcrowding can be solved by having parents provide several items of home address at enrollment appointments.
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Um, you do realize that there are BILLIONS of poor people in this world, right? Have you ever left the country and been to a 3rd world country? I have. If you import millions of poor people that do not generate taxes at the same per-capita basis as the existing population, there is less money for that existing population. There is nothing racist about math. Now Jerry Brown is talking about shifting even more of the money to non-English speakers. Well, if that happens, you are again sacrificing the existing populations education to educate non-Americans. Say what you want about racism but your ideas are destroying the black community of Americans. Thats racist. Why not import millions of Africans if you aren't racist? You see, I think it's wonderful that you poor and middle-class people are getting what you voted for. My kids are going to Standford and your kids will be their servants.
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 06:48 PM
With the exception of Native Americans, everyone here now is the ancestor of an immigrant, most of whom were poor when they arrived. I'm fine with Blacks as well as anyone else coming here, poor or rich. Your statements are off topic, convoluted and disturbing. Do your well educated Stanford children really want servants? If so, wow.
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Ahh, I see you are such an extreme liberal that you use propaganda to confuse legal and illegal immigration. Without a doubt, legal immigration is a wonderful tool for America. It fulfills a need. But, with the current employment rates, what we need are more PhDs, not more poor people. But, you are clearly one of the people that doesn't believe in sovereignty.
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 06:58 PM
You do realize that more than half the students in LAUSD are either the children of or illegal immigrants themselves right? They do not generate the same taxes on a per-capita basis as people that are here legally. If they were not here, you would have DOUBLE the amount of funding on a per-student basis. Basically you would have $10,000 per stundet instead of $5000 per student. I bet you wouldn't have people desperate to find that one rare good school if that was the case. How is that off topic?
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 07:00 PM
No thank you, Mr. Dr. Phd, for the psychological evaluation. Bye.
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Typical left wing nut. You have no real, nor valid argument for why you are destroying the education system. When you aren't permitted to just race-bait and fear-monger you have a tantrum and try to limit speech. Your kids deserve the ghetto you have given them.
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Gotta go and see if I can climb out of the ghetto I have supposedly singlehandely created. Talk to Barbara. That is probably another of your screen names.
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Wear a tin-foil hat? I'm just me. But tell me how math is racist please. Please explain how someone that wants to spend their tax-dollars on Americans, rather than Canadians is racist? It's not. Destroying the education of black Americans is racist. You are a racist.
Sheri Haas February 04, 2013 at 07:38 PM
And you, 1%, are an elitist sending your children to Stanford so they can have servants. That's disgusting. They must be real popular on campus or maybe they don't broadcast those views to their peers.
Joe Onepercent February 04, 2013 at 07:45 PM
If elitest means living up to ones potential, then I am guilty as charged. You on the other hand seem to be a bitter little person that wants to control everyone with a government handout because you hate yourself for being unable to compete in a capitalist society. Enjoy my tax-dollars that you live off of and have a wonderful day.
David Pearlberg February 05, 2013 at 05:25 AM
Joe, where in the world did you dig up that crazy stat about more than half of LAUSD students being either the children of, or illegal immigrants themselves??
Studio City Marg February 05, 2013 at 01:49 PM
You all realize this has nothing to do with ethnicity or race - its an article about living within school boundaries and fraudulent enrollment.
Burt Bakman February 05, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Play nice.
Sheri Haas February 05, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Yes, exactly. I repeated that many times but this 1% person just stayed off track with his tirades and calling me a racist among other disgusting things. Just tried to educate him but finally gave up.
Studio City Marg February 05, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Its a shame LAUSD cannot fix all their schools so these issues do not happen. I mean they have molesters they just move within the district and you people are worried about non resident children. We accept less then good for our children.
mthomp February 06, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Does anyone know if there is any discussion of changing the Carpenter school boundaries (e.g. the "Optional" zones in Colfax Meadows part of Studio City)?
Jane Doe February 06, 2013 at 10:43 PM
This problem has been going on for more than 10 years!!! This is why I live in Studio City and have to pay for a private education for both of my children because Carpenter DOES NOT verify families. Most of the kids my children were in class with actually lived in Van Nuys, Encino, Panarama City, Lake Balboa, etc, etc. The school is over crowded with families who do not belong there! So I was forced to send my kids who are residents to a private school. It's a crime I pay taxes in Studio City and can't even send my kids to school in their own neighborhood. Get the families out of there who do not belong!
jeffgreen1 February 07, 2013 at 08:17 PM
This insane dribble non-sense on Patch.com is exactly why I don't advertise my business on Patch. Someone "hijacks" the conversation and it turns into a non-story related mess.
Boughton February 21, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Isn't it simple enough just to require substantial proof of residency?

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