Education

Maryland Parent Uses DC Apartment To ‘Prove’ Residency So Kids Can Attend District Schools

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A former Parent-Teacher Association board member for the KIPP Promise Academy public charter school in the District of Columbia lives in Maryland with her two children, one of whom attends the taxpayer-funded D.C. school, while the other just graduated the D.C. system.

She says she rents a cheap apartment in the District to use the city’s schools because the education system in the county where she lives is not as good.

Lisa Weddington told The Daily Caller News Foundation that she felt no need to hide her circumstances at District of Columbia Public Charter Schools’ functions, even though District residents would beg her for help getting their children into KIPP, which has lengthy waiting lists.

Weddington lives full-time in District Heights, Maryland, with her fiance, Reginald Hughes, and their son, who just completed third grade. They have lived there since the son was in kindergarten.

“We’re having such a hard time finding schools in the Prince George’s County area that are as good as KIPP; we’ve got to find him a good school and not pay for private school,” she told TheDCNF after reporters observed her leave the Maryland house on numerous mornings with the kids and drive to KIPP in Southeast Washington.

Weddington said she pays for an apartment in D.C. that is unoccupied, uses it as her residence for tax purposes, and has local taxes withheld by D.C. on her paycheck as a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) supervisor. Her fiance, the child’s father, is also a USPS employee. (RELATED: INVESTIGATION: MD Residents Ripping Off DC Public Schools While Admins Refuse To Address It)

“I don’t physically lay my head there” but “I prove my residency, I give them my taxes and pay stubs,” she told TheDCNF.

Weddington said she “can’t even remember” the last time she actually lived in D.C. “We’ve been engaged since before [the third-grader] was born.” Hughes “bought [the house] in 2012, we moved in in March of the following year.”

If she had to repay the D.C. government for the expense of the education — two kids at $35,000 a year — “that would be shocking and terrifying,” she said. As for the after-school care that would be necessary with traditional schools, “I can’t imagine what [the cost of daycare] is now.”

Weddington has a Maryland drivers license and car registration because claiming Maryland residency is more financially beneficial in that situation, she said. “My car is registered in Maryland because Southeast [D.C.] insurance is really high.”

Weddington’s older child went to D.C. public charter schools and recently graduated from KIPP College Prep. He continues to live with his mother at the District Heights home while attending a local college, even though according to Weddington, there is an apartment sitting vacant closer to his college. (RELATED: DC Not Interested In Stopping Maryland Fraudsters Stealing Its Schools)

Each morning, Weddington makes the 15-minute drive from her home to KIPP Promise Academy to drop off the younger boy, and then drops the older one off at the Benning Road Metro station to take the train to college.

The waiting list for KIPP Promise Academy is “absolutely in the hundreds, I have people always asking me how to get in because I am one of the parent advocates, I go up to headquarters, I have been on the KIPP parent organization board,” Weddington told TheDCNF.

She never felt the need to hide where she lived at PTA board meetings, she said. “I’ve never tried to hide it or not tell anyone about it.”

Earlier this week, TheDCNF reported that an apparent Maryland resident was on the board of trustees of another D.C. public charter school, serving alongside the District’s former chief financial officer, who apparently didn’t detect it or didn’t care.

A proprietary records database found no evidence of Weddington using a D.C. address for everyday transactions in recent years.

Even though they are in a long-term, committed relationship, live together and have dual incomes from the federal government, Weddington complained about the financial burden of paying for a second home that sits vacant, citing the unfairness of not being able to receive welfare benefits because of her salary as a postal supervisor. “I got a good job, so they say you can’t get any of the benefits.”

She is also active in the Postal Supervisors Association, a union-like body for post office managers.

The Maryland house on Springdale Avenue costs only $100,000, when other houses with such a convenient commute to D.C. cost 10 times that amount, partially because of a better school system.

But as to whether she is gaming the system to get the best of both worlds — a suburban house for cheap when others had to trade off their living conditions if they wanted a good school system — she noted that others game the system, too.

“When I lived in Southeast, I had friends that had Section 8 in our building and they have nice cars and I said how did you get that when you have food stamps and welfare and a nicer car than me?”

It is unclear, however, that Weddington even maintains a vacant residence in D.C. When TheDCNF pointed out that it would be oddly extravagant to maintain a second home, minutes from their primary home, that was never used, Weddington — who was otherwise open and talkative — declined to say whether anyone else stayed there.

She would not say how many bedrooms are in the D.C. house or how much it cost, and would not tell TheDCNF the address so reporters could determine if it’s sublet or whose name is on the lease.

Follow Luke on Twitter or email luke@dailycallernewsfoundation.org

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