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Rich Connecticut town reconsiders residency school proof

School officials in wealthy Greenwich are reconsidering a new rule requiring families who rent to provide proof of residency with an affidavit.

The Greenwich Time reports that families with children who want to attend public schools in Greenwich must provide a copy of their current lease. Starting this year, they also must provide a notarized affidavit from their landlord who commits to notifying officials if the tenant moves.

The landlord could be criminally prosecuted for making false statements. If the family doesn't provide the affidavit, their children can be denied a spot in school.

The new policy has angered some residents who say it places an unfair burden on renters.

Resident John Bowman said the district is going too far in requesting the affidavits.

"That's a horrendously offensive message to send that lower-income people can't be trusted to tell the truth," he said.

Schools Superintendent William McKersie said administrators are reviewing the requirement and will decide soon if the rule will remain in effect.

Regardless of a decision, the district "remains committed to a thorough and effective process for verifying residency," he said.

Kim Eves, a spokeswoman for the school district, said affidavits help ensure that the lease is legitimate. The change was part of a comprehensive review and series of changes "to develop a more effective system," she said.

Ronald Harris, a lawyer at the state Department of Education, said Greenwich Public Schools are going beyond the scope of state law regarding residency verification.

Under state law, the burden of proof of residency falls on the family and landlords aren't required to submit documentation, he said.

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