Tanglewood school in a tangle over residency

Posted Monday, Aug. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Anyone reading the newsletter from Fort Worth’s Tanglewood Elementary School PTA might think some young students will have a hard time starting classes come Aug. 26 if their parents or caregivers can’t produce documents to prove they live in the school’s attendance zone.

Not so, says district Superintendent Walter Dansby. Tanglewood students who registered in the spring for the soon-to-start school year “should not have any problems” coming back, Dansby said. Others could be accepted as transfer students.

You’d think that the superintendent’s word would prevail in a situation like this, but many people who live in the Tanglewood zone insist that the school is overcrowded and many students don’t meet residence requirements.

The principal has sent a stern message to parents on the subject.

“During the week of August 12th — August 16th, all families will need to come to the campus and provide updated residency documentation,” Principal Connie J. Smith wrote in a letter dated Aug. 1 and published in the PTA newsletter. “Students will not be assigned to classes until residency is verified.”

The required documents are a utility bill for the house or apartment where the student lives and either a lease agreement for renters or a tax notice from the Tarrant Appraisal District for homeowners.

Tanglewood is a desirable school, and students go from there to other desirable schools, including über-desirable Paschal High School.

In her letter, Smith said students may not use the address of a friend or grandparent or a lot or condo their parents own or apartment they rent unless it’s their permanent address.

“Home visits will be done if residency is questioned and students will be withdrawn if it is proven that the documentation does not match permanent residency,” Smith’s letter says.

So who’s going to tell a second-grader they can’t go back to the school where their friends are? Not Dansby.

“We’re not going out on a witch hunt trying to find reasons to kick kids out of school,” the superintendent says. “The principal understands that.”

Still, there’s another problem with Smith’s letter. She cites a definition of residency that’s not in district policy.

District trustees are scheduled to discuss that definition at meeting today, but the soonest it could be added to the official policy is Aug. 27, the day after school starts.

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