Crossing the Boundary

Virginia Boone, multimedia editor

She shuffles down the school hallway, head low and shoulders hunched as she grips onto the straps of her worn JanSport backpack, lugging around recently assigned textbooks and homework.

Her attempts to go unnoticed each day harvest the reward of attending a quality school and fulfilling the academic dreams her parents have for her. Dreams that could not be achieved if she had registered with her legitimate home address.

The exhausting school day inches toward the end, and she starts on the way to her usual stop, where her mother picks her up before a long trek home.

She is just one of the many students who strives for a better education but does not live in a school district that provides such a necessity.

No one can know where she lives and no school friends can come over to her house.

“It’s definitely difficult,” the senior, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “I try to keep a low profile most of the time, so I can continue my education at my school. But it’s hard, you know?”

The quality of schools vary within each district, which remains a fundamental reason why parents send their children to better schools outside of their district.

Miami Palmetto Senior High School is one of those schools.

“Palmetto has such an excellent reputation,” student services department chair Amanda Pinero-Trombly said. “We are a top comprehensive high school. The kids have opportunities here to take courses and just belong and be a part of activities and things that they may not be able to have and benefit from wherever their home school may be.”

Since Palmetto provides such opportunities — including an array of Advanced Placement classes, clubs and sports teams — to students, parents send their children to the school.

But it could come at a cost.

Families have been discovered using addresses that belong to their friends and using addresses from homes that are in foreclosure as well as renting empty apartments inside the district while they live elsewhere.

Parents who are caught fabricating school documents so that their children can attend schools outside of their district may face fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Some may even face up to five years in prison. Though cases of imprisonment are uncommon, families still suffer repercussions — such as being forced to send their children back to the schools that they did not want their children to attend.

If these students are caught, administrators may aid them in the enrollment process for their home school as well as yield the option of applying to different schools within the community. Administrators can also provide the option of going through the specific rules and procedures set forth by the school system. This can be done through transfers from the district, signed leases or if the student applies for a magnet that the school provides.

“It would be nice if everyone could have the same benefits in their education but obviously that’s not the case,” the anonymous student said.