Education

Rampant Fraud Means Even Gov’t Contractors Can Illegally Send Kids To DC Schools

Photo: Kathryn Watson

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Federal contractor Keisha Lameka Walton sends at least one of her children to a Washington, D.C. public charter school–and is even a member of the school’s board of trustees there–despite abundant evidence she and the child live full-time in Maryland with the child’s father.

District of Columbia public schools cost taxpayers nearly $30,000 annually, and it takes roughly 10 average property tax bills in D.C. to cover the cost of educating each student. Walton told The Daily Caller News Foundation that she lives full time in D.C. and has joint custody with her ex-husband in Maryland.

But TheDCNF observed Walton pick up her 8-year-old daughter from the all-girl Excel Academy Public Charter school in the afternoon. Walton and her daughter were then followed to a town home in Capitol Heights, Md. TheDCNF observed Walton taking her daughter and a second unidentified child from the Maryland town home to the D.C. charter school on two separate occasions in the morning.

Records obtained by TheDCNF show the owner of the Capitol Heights home is Brian Stanley, who claims on Facebook to be the girl’s father. Stanley claims the house as his principal residency on his taxes, according to Prince George’s County property records reviewed by TheDCNF. Stanley, according to his Facebook profile, works for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs the troubled D.C. metro system. That system is heavily subsidized by local and federal governments.

Federal contractor Keisha Walton claims she and her daughter live in D.C., but appears to reside in Maryland. Photo: Facebook

Federal contractor Keisha Walton claims she and her daughter live in D.C., but she appears to reside in Maryland.
Photo: Facebook

Walton, 39, works as a contractor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a proprietary records service subscribed to by TheDCNF, which gathers names and addresses from credit cards, magazines, governments and other sources, indicates the last time she used a D.C. address was in 1997. The same records show she has lived at numerous houses all around Maryland since then.

Other records show a $5,432 Maryland state tax lien filed against Walton in 2006 and released in 2012. She also filed bankruptcy in Maryland in 1999.

“I don’t live in Maryland,” Walton said when TheDCNF called her at work. “Her dad lives in Maryland.”

“That’s not my house,” Walton added. “I do not live there.”

Walton said she goes to the dad’s house for visitation or to pick the children up from school, but TheDCNF observed her Acura there as early as 6 a.m. over three mornings, and observed her leave the home shortly before 8 a.m. on two mornings.

TheDCNF observed no fewer than 20 Maryland plates at Excel during pickup in the afternoon, or roughly one in four plates observed. The school educates 700 girls in preschool through seventh grade. At least one license plate was from Virginia.

Excel has long had problems with residency fraud. The District of Columbia government’s Office of State Superintendent Education (OSSE) found only one in three Excel students submitted proper proof of residency, meaning the rest provided no valid proof that they lived in D.C., according to documents obtained in 2014 by The Washington Post.

An Excel school administrator at the time, Lela Johnson, admitted to enrolling her daughter at the school for three years while living in Upper Marlboro, Md., per a settlement agreement OSSE reached and the Post obtained.

Johnson, who oversaw enrollment as a part of her job, agreed to pay back $24,000 in tuition. D.C. charter schools receive $17,525 per student, per year, meaning Johnson paid less than half of the $52,575 price tag for her daughter’s education.

D.C.’s former chief financial officer is the treasurer of Excel’s board of trustees, serving alongside Walton.

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