The city is cracking down on a New Jersey family that illegally enrolled their daughter at two of the city’s most competitive public schools.
Jill Schifter and Anthony Maulello’s daughter won a spot in the Professional Performing Arts School in 2005 and was accepted to the ultra-competitive drama program at LaGuardia High School two years later. But according to a report released today by Special Commissioner of Investigations Richard Condon, Schifter and Maulello live in North Bergen, N.J., not New York City, meaning their daughter wasn’t eligible to attend the schools.
Investigators responding to an anonymous tip last fall found that the couple had briefly placed utilities accounts at a friend’s apartment under their name in order to establish residency after enrolling at PPAS. It was only six months into the investigation, in February 2010, that Maulello signed a lease on an apartment in Manhattan.
The city is moving to collect nearly $25,000 from Maulello and Schifter, the art teacher at a Jersey City charter school, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg. That figure represents five years’ worth of the tuition the city requires from public school parents who live outside of the city. (Last year, the city collected $692,895 in tuition, Feinberg said.) According to the regulation about non-resident enrollment, Schifter and Maulello’s daughter could also be thrown out of LaGuardia.
The story is an extreme example of a not-uncommon phenomenon. Rumors that some parents provided a cousin’s or colleague’s address when enrolling are a dime a dozen at some desirable schools, and I’ve also heard about families that enroll legitimately but later move out of the city and never pay tuition. But it is rare for the Office of Special Investigations to release a report detailing the wrongdoing.
Brooklyn Tech’s 15-year principal, Lee McCaskill, resigned in 2006 after investigators found that he had illicitly enrolled his daughter in Cobble Hill’s PS 29 while living in New Jersey.