WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced lawsuits against 16 Maryland and Virginia parents—including six current or former District government employees—for falsifying District residency to send children to District schools for free and acquire District public benefits. In ten separate lawsuits, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that these non-residents broke District law by sending their children to District schools without paying required non-resident tuition, and, in some cases, committing fraud to receive public benefits, including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). OAG is seeking over $2.9 million in unpaid tuition, undeserved benefits, damages, and penalties.
“These lawsuits should remind non-D.C. residents that there are consequences for breaking the rules to avoid paying non-resident tuition,” said AG Racine. “This is a message to everyone that residency fraud is a violation of the law, and our office will hold parents and guardians accountable for falsifying their residency to send their children to District schools for free.”
Parents, guardians, or eligible caregivers who are District residents can send their children to the District’s traditional public or public charter schools free of charge. Non-residents can apply to send their children to District schools, but they must pay non-resident tuition, which typically costs between $10,000 and $14,000 per year. However, in most cases, even paying non-residents are not typically admitted to a District school if there are D.C. residents on that school’s waiting list. Additionally, medical or other benefits are only available to District residents.
Under the District’s False Claims Act, it is illegal to knowingly make false statements to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay the District. It is also illegal to knowingly cover up or avoid an obligation to pay the District, even if you do not make any false statements yourself. The District can seek to recover up to triple the amount that is owed in unpaid tuition if a court agrees and can also obtain civil penalties. This means that non-residents who send their children to District schools and do not pay the required tuition could face extremely steep costs if they are found liable for non-resident tuition fraud.
OAG has independent authority to investigate and take legal action under the False Claims Act. When OAG receives an allegation of residency fraud or a referral from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) or public charter schools, the District Department of Health Services, or the public, the office independently investigates the case to determine whether there is evidence of fraud and if legal action is appropriate.
Residency Fraud Lawsuits
OAG filed 10 separate suits against 16 Maryland and Virginia parents who fraudulently claimed District addresses as their own, or concealed or avoided their obligation to pay non-resident tuition, in order to send their children to District schools without paying tuition. Three of the suits also charge defendants with lying about their residency to acquire public benefits reserved for District residents. The suits allege that parents did one or more of the following:
- Falsified D.C. residency to send their children to District schools: All the parents named in the lawsuits lived in Maryland or Virginia at the time they sent their children to District schools, yet enrolled their children as District residents, sent their children to District schools, and failed to pay out-of-state tuition.
- Falsified D.C. residency to acquire District benefits: In three cases, parents lied about being D.C. residents in order to receive Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF benefits. Defendants made false statements—over phone calls with DC Health Link or in paperwork submitted to the District’s Department of Health Care Finance and Department of Human Services—attesting that they lived at D.C. addresses.
- Lied repeatedly in documents attesting to D.C. residency to avoid paying non-resident tuition: Each year, parents who send their children to D.C. schools are required to submit enrollment forms and residency verification forms for each of their children. Many of these parents used District addresses that belonged to other individuals on the official forms and signed sworn statements attesting that they lived in the District. Some of these forms included the statement “I understand that providing false information for the purposes of defrauding the government is punishable by law.”
- Covered up their obligation to pay non-resident tuition to the District: Parents who do not submit enrollment documents with false District addresses, but know that their non-resident children are attending District schools for free, also violate the False Claims Act by concealing or avoiding their obligation to pay non-resident tuition for their children’s education. This includes parents who “bury their heads in the sand” when it comes to their responsibility for paying non-resident tuition.
Lashana Jamison Shubert and Raymond Shubert
Lashana Jamison Shubert and Raymond Shubert are a married couple. Jamison Shubert, a former DCPS teacher, resides in Hamlet, NC, while Raymond lives in Brandywine, Maryland. The defendants have two children. They sent both to Leckie Educational Campus, where Jamison Shubert was employed. One child attended for three full school years, the other for five. During this period, the Shuberts claimed residence in D.C., while living in District Heights, Maryland, in order to avoid paying non-resident tuition. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties from the defendants that could total $367,167.
A copy of the District’s complaint against the Shuberts is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Shubert-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf
Latosha Joseph Francis and Mark Francis
Latosha Joseph Francis and Mark Francis are a married couple who have sent their two children, and Joseph Francis’s son, to four District schools over 13 full school years between 2005 to 2019. Despite claiming residency in D.C., the family was living in Upper Marlboro, Maryland over these years. Joseph Francis also obtained District Medicaid benefits for a part of this period. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, benefits, damages, and penalties from the defendants that could total $710,003.54.
A copy of the District’s complaint against the Francises is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Francis-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf
Julia White and Kamechia White
Julia White is a former DCPS educational aide and the mother of co-defendant Kamechia White. Kamechia White is the mother of three children, one of whom attended Miner Elementary, Langley Elementary, and Peabody Elementary from 2010-2014. During this time, Kamechia White and her family lived in Maryland, but claimed District residency. In the 2013-2014 school year, Julia White submitted a false enrollment form stating she was Kamechia White’s son’s mother and providing a false District address while also living in Maryland. Both the Whites obtained District Medicaid benefits at points within this period, and Kamechia White also obtained SNAP and TANF benefits from the District. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, along with benefits, damages, and penalties that could total $262,061.65.
A copy of the District’s complaint against the Whites is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/White-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf
Jocelyn Johnson is a Maryland resident who obtained District Medicaid benefits for her and her two children from 2012-2014, though they lacked District residency. The District is seeking to recover at least $32,902.46 in damages.
A copy of the District’s complaint against Johnson is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Johnson-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf
Lynette C. Broadus and Kevin J. Tolson
Lynette C. Broadus and Kevin J. Tolson are a married couple. The couple has one son, and Broadus has two other children. Each of the three children attended District schools—including Perry Street Prep Public Charter School, Kramer Middle School, and Roosevelt High School—between 2011-2016. Broadus and Tolson were living in Virginia or Maryland during this period but claimed to be District residents in order to avoid paying non-resident tuition for their children. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties that could total $274,501.
A copy of the District’s complaint against Broadus and Tolson is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Broadus-Tolson-Residency-Fraud-Complaint_0.pdf
Edward Smith and Rayna Bailey-Smith
Edward Smith and Rayna Bailey-Smith are a married couple with four children, who have attended several District schools since 2006. Smith is an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department, while Bailey-Smith is a social worker with the DC Child and Family Services Agency. While the family lives in Maryland, Smith and Bailey-Smith claimed residence in D.C. in order to avoid paying non-resident tuition. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties that could total $775,733.
A copy of the District’s complaint against Smith and Bailey-Smith is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Smith-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf
Angel Matthews is a bus attendant for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, who lives in Clinton, Maryland. In April 2014, she enrolled her daughter at Stuart Hobson Middle School for the 2014-15 school year; in October 2014 she moved to Maryland but did not inform the school or the District of her residency change. Matthews enrolled her daughter as a District resident for the 2015-16 while claiming residence in D.C., signing and submitting a D.C. Residency form around the same time. Matthews thus avoided paying non-resident tuition while her daughter attended school for part of the 2014-2015 and most of the 2015-16 school years. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties that could total $68,941.
A copy of the District’s complaint against Matthews is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Matthews-Residency-Fraud-Complaint_0.pdf
Marcus Silver and Marva Silver
Marcus and Marva Silver are a married couple living in Hyattsville, Maryland. Marcus Silver is an Abandoned Vehicle Investigator for the Department of Public Works. The Silvers enrolled their daughter at two District schools—Shaed Elementary, now closed, and Langley Educational Campus—over three school years between 2009-2012, as if she were a District resident. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition damages that could total $27,459.
A copy of the District’s complaint against the Silvers is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Silver-Residency-Fraud-Complaint_0.pdf
Amanda Turner enrolled her five children in District schools, including Wilson High School, Columbia Heights Educational Campus, and H.D. Cooke Elementary, for the 2013-14 school year. In December 2013, Turner moved from the District to Takoma Park, Maryland but did not inform the school or the District of her residency change. Despite the move, Turner submitted enrollment documents for her five children using a District address for the 2014-15 school year, while remaining a Maryland resident. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties that could total $287,022.
A copy of the District’s complaint against Turner is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Turner-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf
LaFonta C. Dublin
LaFonta C. Dublin resides in Capitol Heights, Maryland. During a portion of the 2012-2013 school year and for the entirety of the 2013-2014 school year, her daughter attended Smothers Elementary School tuition-free despite lacking District residency. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties that could total $94,469.
A copy of the District’s complaint against Dublin is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Dublin-Residency-Fraud-Complaint_0.pdf
OAG’s Work on Residency Fraud
Over the past two years, OAG has devoted additional resources, attorneys, and investigators to fight residency fraud. Before this sweep, OAG had sued 17 adults this year—including one former and three current non-resident employees of D.C. Public Schools—for falsifying District residency to send their children to D.C. public schools for free, including at in-demand District schools like Wilson High and Duke Ellington School of the Arts. In 2018, OAG filed suit against six Maryland parents for residency fraud at in-demand District schools like Capitol Hill Montessori and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, along with tuition-fraud lawsuits against three non-resident D.C. government employees.
Resources for Parents
Parents with questions about the non-resident tuition enforcement process can find answers to frequently asked questions here: https://oag.dc.gov/blog/understanding-non-resident-tuition-enforcement or https://osse.dc.gov/page/office-enrollment-residency.