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ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
REPORT #12-13/15 October 8, 2012
Peg Koshmider, Audit Director Sonia Montoya, Senior Auditor Joyce Ramirez, Staff Auditor Rachel Cortez, Audit Specialist
BACKGROUND: Enrollment at North Star Elementary School (NSES) has exceeded the expected school capacity. A meeting was held in September of 2012 with the parents of students attending the school. Board members, the Superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools and NSES and district staff were in attendance at the meeting. It was agreed that a study would be conducted to provide information for administration and the school board in determining how best to handle the situation. The Superintendent requested the Internal Audit Department to conduct the study. The Internal Audit Department compiled information discussed in the study from the school using enrollment records, registration cards, proof of residency cards, any documentation retained by the school during enrollment, district records and county real estate records provided by the Capital Master Plan Department. OBJECTIVES: 1. Determine if any students are attending North Star Elementary School out of the proper boundaries. 2. Determine enrollment criteria used for student falling in outlier categories. 3. Determine if the criteria used for enrollment is effective and consistent. SCOPE: Review enrollment information for the past year. Each child has to present accepted documentation to enroll on an annual basis with the exception of children of employees and children with approved transfers. METHODOLOGY: 1. Identify number of students enrolled. 2. Review the school boundaries. 3. Identify type of enrollment documentation used. 4. Identify children/other relatives of staff members at NSES. 5. Identify students listed under same addresses. 6. Test outliers against approved transfer lists. 7. Compare process used to district procedures for consistency/compliance. SCHOOL HISTORY: North Star ES phase 1 was completed in December, 2006. The students shared the facilities at Double Eagle ES on a temporary basis from August, 2006 through December, 2006. NSES opened for 500 students to attend in January, 2007 for the second half of the 06-07 school year. NSES phase 2 was completed in October, 2008 and was occupied the same month. The houses in this area sit on larger parcels of property, a minimum of one house per acre, so there are a smaller number of homes in the school boundaries. In the years after NSES was completed, the City of Albuquerque annexed the land at the southwest section of the school
boundaries. The area annexed was zoned for multiple houses per acre which increased the potential for many more students to attend NSES. DISTRICT ENROLLMENT CRITERIA: Line 3 of the APS enrollment procedures requires proof of address when enrolling a student. It reads as: “3. Proof of address (such as a current utility bill, mortgage, or lease agreement with your name and current address on it).” Utilities are considered public utilities such as gas, electric and water. Rarely are telephone services considered a utility. The water bill in Albuquerque is billed to the property and typically can be addressed to “Resident Current”. If it is past due, it is viewed as a lien on the property and must be paid by the renter/owner and the amount owed must be paid prior to closing or is included in closing costs at the time the property is sold. The responsible party’s name is not always on the bill. It was found that the names on the electrical and gas bills could be changed over the phone. The school personnel are of the opinion that some of the parents of students are having residents in the area, who could be friends, agree to have the name changed on the bills temporarily to facilitate registration at the school. The utility personnel do advise the caller that they will now be responsible for the bills. It could be that some people may call to change the name on the utility bill for the months needed to register and then change back when no longer needed. Pre-registration takes place in February/March. The school is considering asking for a current bill from August, prior to meeting their child’s classroom teacher. While this may be an annoyance to parents who might be misusing the bills as registration documents, the proposed change in process will not permanently curtail the abuse. RESULTS: North Star Elementary School has 745 students enrolled for the 2012-2013 year. As of 9-282012, 3 students have dis-enrolled and 1 additional student has enrolled. The school capacity is 663 per the capital master plan department. Of the 745 students enrolled, 438 live within the school’s boundaries, their last names match the names of the homeowners and their parents own homes in the boundary area according to the county records provided. The remaining 307 students (adjusted from 309 for 3 dis-enrolled and one new enrollment) were split into five categories on the county real estate records provided by the Capital Master Plan Department:
a. 21 students have a parent that owns property within the school boundaries but may live outside the boundaries. b. 245 students have matching addresses to the home address, but the last name of the student differs from the owner’s name. This could be due to blended family relationships. c. 17 students have a variety of mismatches which may include student and parent/custodian’s address, student and owner addresses, and three students with no address information. d. 26 students were on a list with addresses that were outside the school boundaries. The records were reviewed for the 307 students along with a sample of the 438 students with addresses within the school boundary. There were no abnormalities found in the sample of the 438 students. The following was determined involving the 307 students: a. 184 students used the APS required documents to register. b. 3 students have approved transfers to attend North Star. c. 36 students had parents who did own property within the North Star boundaries. d. 19 students had the Family Living with Family documentation on file. e. 13 students were children of staff members. f. 52 students were allowed to register without using acceptable documentation. DOCUMENTATION USED FOR REGISTRATION (Chart 1)
180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Proof of Residency PNM/Gas Bill (158) Lease/Mortgage Docs. (26) Transfer (3) Parents Own Home (36) Fam Living with fam (19) Not Acceptable per District (52) Employee's Students (13)
255 students of the 307 students with questionable registration were determined to be in the school with the appropriate criteria matching current APS policy. This brought total legal enrollment to 693 (30 students above capacity). The registration material for 52 students had the following discrepancies with the registration material:
a. 32 students used a phone bill, cable bill, bank statement, driver’s license, e-mail, car insurance document or a copy of an APS transfer request as proof of residency. b. 2 students have a parent that is an APS employee who has left North Star and currently works at another school in the area. c. 18 students did not submit proof of residency but were allowed to register. Staff could not explain how those students were allowed to register. There were six students that are included in the above 52 students that are using the same address but do not appear to be related (multiple families at one address). There is one family whose parents are divorced and both have residences outside of the North Star boundaries. Their children attend North Star and one at home is expecting to attend the school. The father owns a third home within the boundaries of North Star and houses his parents at the residence. He refuses to complete a “family living with family” form. The principal indicated he had been allowed to register his children prior to her tenure at the school. It appeared that one student had been allowed to transfer on an irregular transfer document. The transfer process was discussed with the Director of Student Services. He explained that a transfer request is completed on-line. The names of the student and of the individual requesting the transfer must be provided on the form. A confirmation number is then provided when the request is submitted. The student is placed on a waiting list if there is not sufficient capacity at the school to accept the student. The student in question was number one on the waiting list. When the director was informed the student was already attending the school the only thing that could be presumed was the parent had made a print screen of the form and presented it at the school where it was accepted by staff. The Director of Student Services later confirmed that the student had properly transferred to the school within the rules of APS transfers. The student is a fifth grader who will attend another school next year. The principal was contacted to determine if staff handled registration and accepted the registration documentation or if parent volunteers were allowed to assist and make those decisions. Internal Audit was informed registration was handled by staff. UPDATED INFORMATION: Internal Audit revisited North Star in November, 2012. It was found that the 18 students without proof of residency did indeed have some form of documentation. The information had not been available at the time of the first visit. The school staff had pulled the student names and documentation and was working with them. The numbers are as follows:
• • • • • •
2 Related to staff 2 Staff members 10 Purchase agreements 2 Gas bill 1 Family living w/Family 1 Grandfathered in/Board Policy
Below is a corrected copy of Chart 1 (page 3) to include the above numbers:
180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Proof of Residency PNM/Gas Bill (160) Lease/Mortgage Docs. (36) Transfer (3) Parents Own Home (36) Fam Living with fam (20) Not Acceptable per District (34) Staff children/related to Staff (17) Board Policy (1)
MAILING: On 11-6-12, a mailing requesting additional documentation regarding proof of residency was made to a random sample number of parents. Twenty letters were mailed to sample the original 160 students who registered using a PNM/Gas bill. Fifteen letters were mailed to sample the original 34 students who were allowed to register using something other than what was acceptable per APS policy. The results of that mailing are detailed in the chart below. The students were numbered and the number range was inserted into a sampling program to select the students. The students’ names have been removed to protect their privacy.
SAMPLE 1 NORTH STAR
Student 1 of 20 Student 2 of 20 Student 3 of 20 Student 4 of 20 Student 5 of 20 Student 6 of 20 Student 7 of 20 Student 8 of 20 Student 9 of 20 Student 10 of 20 Student 11 of 20 Student 12 of 20 Student 13 of 20 Student 14 of 20 Student 15 of 20 Student 16 of 20 Student 17 of 20 Student 18 of 20 Student 19 of 20 Student 20 of 20
NO RESPONSE RESPONSE
x x x x x x
Gas Bill PNM Bill Gas Bill Gas Bill PNM Bill PNM Bill Gas Bill Gas Bill Gas Bill PNM Bill
Gas Bill (same)
x x x(l) xx x x x x x x x x x x
PNM Bill PNM Bill PNM Bill Wells Fargo Bank Century Link Comcast Wells Fargo Bank Chase Bank PNM Bill Homeowner's Ins Property Tax Bill Bank of Albuquerque Comcast
Gas Bill PNM Bill PNM Bill PNM Bill Gas Bill PNM Bill Gas Bill PNM Bill Gas Bill Gas Bill
SAMPLE 2 NORTH STAR
Student 1 of 15 Student 2 of 15 Student 3 of 15 Student 4 of 15 Student 5 of 15 Student 6 of 15 Student 7 of 15 Student 8 of 15
NO RESPONSE RESPONSE
x x x x xx x x x 6
Sandia Credit Union Gas Bill Mortgage Statement Sandia Credit Union PNM Bill Gas Bill PNM Bill
Grandfathered Tax Bill Cable Bill Cable Bill Cable Bill Telephone Bill Cable Bill Cable Bill
Student 9 of 15 Student 10 of 15 Student 11 of 15 Student 12 of 15 Student 13 of 15 Student 14 of 15 Student 15 of 15
NO RESPONSE RESPONSE
x x x x x x x x
Wells Fargo Bank
Direct TV (same) PNM Bill PNM Bill Tax Bill
Cable Bill Telephone Bill Water Billl w/Name Cable Bill Telephone Bill Water Billl w/Name Telephone Bill
It should be noted that the response with two x’s are because the parent responded to both the school and the audit department with the same information. Only one response was counted. One parent in each sample responded past the deadline, but both were included in the responses. One parent in each sample responded with the same documentation as originally provided, which was specifically not permitted and these were counted as nonresponsive. Anyone that did not return the documents was counted as non-responsive. That included 6 in Sample 1 for a 30% failure rate and 4 in Sample 2 for a 27% failure rate. Both failure rates were outside the expected 10% failure rate. Sample 1 involved all students with a variety of mismatches such as names that did not match to the owners’ names, students with addresses outside the school boundaries, students with addresses outside the school boundaries but with a parent inside the school boundaries and all whose enrolling parent had used a PNM or gas bill for residential proof. Sample 2 involved any student who was enrolled using documentation for residential proof that was not acceptable per APS procedures. The results were discussed with the Assessment Manager in the Research, Deployment and Accountability Department. This individual handles most statistical matters for the district and has taught statistics at UNM. It was suggested, due to the size of the failure rate, that the sample size be significantly expanded. The lack of responses and incorrect responses were from student enrollment records that did not pass the address verification test and were termed test failures. This being said, the test failures in Sample 1 were 6 or 30%, significantly higher than the expected/accepted 10% failure rate. Sample 2 had test failures of 4 or 27%, again higher than the expected 10%. Therefore, both fell below the 95% confidence level. Larger samples could be run, however that will take
much more time and both APS administration and the parent population should be in agreement to do this. The reaction to the sample also resulted in a 6% response of negative phone calls and letters. The comments included individuals claiming they were targeted due to having cancer, individual who were convinced the district was trying to force them to marry, comments made during the meeting that the district had committed to reviewing the entire district; that if a sample was conducted the entire district would be included and that certain families were being targeted. It is unknown if the definition in the mind of the commenters was related to the term APS district or North Star district. A variety of assumptions could be made regarding those who did not return any documentation. These assumptions include mail may not have been delivered, a non-custodial parent may have received the communications and not realized the importance of the letter, the person who should have responded may not have understood the letter, some may not have wanted to participate, the letter was offered only in English and English may not be the first language in the home, and there may have been a fear factor associated with a response. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION OBTAINED: The school conducts an exercise with the students in August/September of each year that is a required standard for all second graders moving to the 3rd grade. Students are asked to write their name, date of birth, age, school name, teacher’s name, address, phone number, and the names of their mom and dad. The students are expected to know this information by the 3rd grade. It is understandable that the K-2 students may not know this information. It is not considered normal/acceptable for the older students to make mistakes on this type of basic information. These sheets were reviewed for abnormalities and the children who would not/could not answer these questions also were found to have used unacceptable registration materials or materials that could be altered by changing the name on a utility bill. a. Four 3rd -5th grade students said that they did not know their address. Two used a PNM bill to register, one used the car insurance and one used a cable bill. b. Another four 3rd -5th grade students did not list their address on this exercise and one used a gas bill, one used a phone bill, and two showed no proof of residency when registering. c. Another three 3rd -5th grade students listed different addresses than are shown on the real estate records. One used a gas bill, one used a PNM bill and one showed no proof of residency.
OPTIONS: Changes in any accepted documentation or process in registration would be best made for the entire district to avoid any claims of discrimination. Suggested Accepted Documents: a. Signed rental agreements identifying the renters and property address. b. Signed lease agreements identifying the lessees and property address. c. Signed mortgage documents identifying owners and property addresses, including properties under construction. d. Only approved transfers should be accepted. Staff members’ children should also be included in the approved transfer process citing the employment location as the reason for transfer. Notification should come only from Student Services. Boundaries: a. Changing the school boundaries per recommendations from APS Administration, Capital Master Plan, and the Albuquerque Board of Education to address the capacity issues. As construction increases, the density issue created by the annexation will contribute to ongoing problems with enrollment. Realignment of Space: a. Build another school, realigning the boundaries between North Star, Double Eagle, Dennis Chavez and a new school. b. Divide Double Eagle and North Star into a K-2 grade level school and 3-5 grade level school. This solution would even the capacity issues between the schools while providing immediate relief to North Star. The capacity according to the Capital Master Plan Department at North Star and Double Eagle are 663 and 650 respectively. The enrollment figures as of September 28, 2012 on School Max are detailed below. SCHOOL MAX ENROLLMENT FIGURES BY GRADE LEVEL (Table 1) GRADE LEVEL
Kindergarten First Grade Second Grade Third Grade Fourth Grade Fifth Grade Totals
105 126 119 119 135 141 745
69 80 85 79 93 89 495
174 206 204 198 228 230 1,240
SCHOOL REALIGNMENT BY GRADE LEVEL (Table 2) GRADE LEVEL
Kindergarten First Grade Second Grade Third Grade Fourth Grade Fifth Grade
174 206 198
198 228 230
This proposal would allow both schools to be under capacity based on the current enrollment. It would allow all students currently enrolled in both North Star and Double Eagle the opportunity to complete elementary school in their current school and it would afford the district time to realign the boundaries and deal with any construction within the district that may be deemed necessary. Both schools could offer bus transportation to all students as North Star currently does. This would eliminate the split drop off and pick-up issues for families with children that would need to attend both schools. If the parents choose to pick up their children it would be their choice. CONCLUSION: 1. Using the failure rate in both samples on the total population the district would have 57 students that may be registered at the wrong school. That number would not solve the capacity issue at NCES. 2. Changes made in the registration process or documentation accepted should be consistent district-wide. 3. Solutions should be developed by District Administration and the School Board and communicated to the school community. 4. The school staff did not always follow current APS procedures relative to proof of residency as demonstrated in Chart 1. We would like to thank the principal and the staff at North Star for their cooperation during this review, the Capital Master Plan and Student Services departments for their assistance, and the entire parent population of North Star for their cooperation and patience through this process. Study completed by Peg Koshmider, Sonia Montoya, and Joyce Ramirez.
Approvals: ___________________________ Peg Koshmider, Audit Director Internal Audit Department _____ ___ Date ___
_________________________ Martin Esquivel, Chairperson APS Audit Committee
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