WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced that he has filed two new lawsuits against two D.C. government employees and a D.C. public charter school teacher who, the suits allege, have committed tuition fraud. The suits seek more than $800,000 in repayments for tuition, damages, and penalties.
“Non-resident tuition fraud is illegal. District residents are properly enraged when they learn that parents who do not reside in the District are fraudulently sending their children to District Public and Charter Schools. The Office of Attorney General will enforce the law and protect District taxpayers from having to foot the bill for students who do not live in the District,” Attorney General Racine said. “Through these lawsuits and other efforts, we are working to ensure that seats in our public schools are reserved for bona fide District residents.”
The first suit is against Akila Johnson and Detective Stephen Davis, both of whom currently work for the Metropolitan Police Department. Combined the couple have seven children, and the suit alleges that, over the last four school years, one or more of these children attended a D.C. public school while the defendants lived in Maryland. The suit seeks $545,163 in damages under the District’s False Claims Act (including $181,721 in back tuition) and penalties. The complaint is available here.
The second lawsuit is against a former Miner Elementary School teacher, Duriel Cobb, who now teaches at a KIPP public charter school in the District; and his ex-wife, Talaya Cobb. It alleges that their children attended both Miner Elementary, a D.C. Public School, and KIPP public charter schools while Duriel Cobb was employed as a teacher at those schools and the Cobbs were living outside the District. The suit seeks $293,949 in damages (including $131,159 in back tuition) and penalties. The complaint is available here.
District law requires that non-resident tuition be paid for each D.C. public school student who does not have a parent or guardian residing in the District. Since it began suing parents for non-resident-tuition fraud in 2012, the Office of the Attorney General OAG) has obtained 13 monetary judgments and 15 out-of-court settlements totaling approximately $1.6 million, most of which are being collected through periodic payments or garnishments of wages. One of the largest judgments came in 2016, with a $539,000 judgment against a couple for fraudulently enrolling their children in DCPS campuses while living in Maryland and Virginia.
In the past year-plus, OAG has devoted additional resources to fighting tuition fraud – including adding two new attorneys and two new investigators to the team that handles these cases.