If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Using a grandparent’s address to enroll a child in a school district where the child does not actually live is usually considered illegal, but the rules vary across school districts and states.

There are often serious consequences if caught, like being disenrolled or even facing fraud charges.

Sending your child to a high-performing public school outside of your own district is an idea that appeals to many parents. With competitive magnet programs, gifted tracks, and nationally-ranked academics, certain schools seem to offer clear advantages over others.

This leads some families to seek ways to bypass residential requirements, such as using a grandparent’s or other relative’s address to claim in-district status. But is this legal? And what are the potential consequences?

This article will examine the common policies, laws, and penalties surrounding address fraud in school enrollment.

Residency Fraud Overview

Residency fraud refers to the act of using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment when the child does not actually reside in that school district. This practice is considered fraudulent because it violates the rules and regulations set by the school district.

It is important for parents to understand the implications and consequences of committing residency fraud.

What constitutes residency fraud?

Residency fraud occurs when parents provide false information about their child’s place of residence in order to enroll them in a school outside of their designated district. This can include using a grandparent’s address, a friend’s address, or even renting a temporary residence within the desired school district.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Markham Woods Middle School (@markhamwoodsms)


Schools have strict residency requirements in place to ensure that students are attending schools in the district where they truly reside.

Some common examples of residency fraud include parents using a grandparent’s address to enroll their child in a school with better academic programs or extracurricular activities, or to avoid attending a school in a district with lower performance ratings.

While the intentions may be well-meaning, it is important to understand that this practice is illegal and can have serious consequences.

Why parents do it

Parents may be tempted to commit residency fraud for various reasons. They may believe that enrolling their child in a different school district will provide them with better educational opportunities or a safer environment.

Additionally, some parents may be dissatisfied with the schools in their own district and see this as a way to secure a better education for their child.

It is important to note that while the motivations behind residency fraud may be understandable, it is still a violation of the law and can have negative consequences for both the parents and the child involved.

How common is residency fraud?

It is difficult to determine the exact prevalence of residency fraud as many cases go undetected. However, it is a problem that schools and districts across the country are actively trying to combat. Schools are implementing stricter residency verification processes to ensure that students are attending schools in the correct district.

Reports show that every year hundreds of children are expelled from suburban Philadelphia school districts for residency fraud. This suggests that residency fraud is not uncommon, but it is important to note that these numbers can vary significantly depending on the location and demographics of the school district.

Laws and School Policies on Residency

When it comes to enrolling your child in school, residency is an important factor to consider. School districts have specific laws and policies in place to ensure that students are attending schools in the correct district based on their place of residence.

Using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment is a potential solution that some families consider, but it’s essential to understand the laws and policies surrounding residency to avoid any legal repercussions or penalties.

Proof of residency requirements

School districts typically require parents or legal guardians to provide proof of residency when enrolling a child in school. This proof can include documents such as utility bills, lease agreements, or property tax bills that clearly show the address within the district’s boundaries.

Some school districts may also require additional documentation, such as a driver’s license or a notarized affidavit confirming the child’s residence.

Penalties for breaking residency rules

Using a grandparent’s address or any other false information to enroll a child in a school outside of the designated district boundaries is considered a violation of residency rules. The penalties for breaking these rules can vary depending on the school district and local laws.

In some cases, parents may be required to pay back any tuition or fees that were waived based on false residency information. Additionally, the child may be removed from the school and enrolled in the appropriate district, causing disruption to their education.

School districts empowered to investigate

School districts have the authority to investigate residency claims to ensure that students are attending schools in the correct district. This can include conducting home visits, verifying documentation, and even hiring private investigators if necessary.

If a school district suspects that a family is using a grandparent’s address as a fraudulent means of enrollment, they have the right to take legal action and enforce the appropriate penalties.

It’s important to remember that using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment should only be considered if it aligns with the laws and policies set forth by the school district. It’s always best to consult with the school district directly to understand the specific requirements and avoid any potential legal issues.

Legal Consequences

Can be prosecuted as fraud

Using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment can have serious legal consequences. In many jurisdictions, this action is considered fraudulent and can result in criminal charges. School districts require families to provide accurate and truthful information for enrollment purposes.

Using a false address to gain access to a specific school district is a violation of the law and can lead to serious legal repercussions.

May constitute theft of services

When a family uses a grandparent’s address to enroll their child in a school outside of their designated district, they are essentially stealing educational services that should rightfully be provided to children who reside in that area.

This act can be seen as a form of theft of services, as the family is taking advantage of resources that are meant for others. Schools rely on accurate enrollment data to allocate resources and plan effectively, and using a grandparent’s address disrupts this process.

Jail time and fines possible in some states

The consequences for using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment vary by state. In some states, individuals who are caught engaging in this practice may face jail time and hefty fines.

For example, in Ohio, knowingly providing false information for school enrollment can be punishable as a felony, according to the amount of tuition owed because residency fraud is a criminal offense according to Ohio Revised Code 2913.02 Theft by Deception and Ohio Revised Code 2913.13 Falsification.

It’s important to understand the specific laws and penalties in your state to avoid getting entangled in legal issues.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Columbia International College (@columbia.international.college)


School Related Consequences

Using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment can have several consequences that parents should be aware of. These consequences can range from disenrollment to financial obligations and even impact future enrollment opportunities.

Disenrollment likely

When a school discovers that a student is enrolled using a false address, they are likely to disenroll the student. Schools have strict residency requirements, and using a grandparent’s address to bypass those requirements is considered fraudulent.

Disenrollment can disrupt a child’s education and necessitate finding a new school, causing significant inconvenience for both the child and the parents.

Repayment of tuition may be required

In cases where the school has charged tuition fees or received funding based on the false address, parents may be required to repay those funds. This can result in unexpected financial burdens for the family and may strain relationships with the grandparent involved.

Additionally, parents may face legal consequences if the school decides to take legal action for tuition reimbursement.

May impact future enrollment

Using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment can have lasting consequences on a child’s educational journey. Schools keep records of student addresses, and this information can affect future enrollment opportunities.

If a parent tries to enroll their child in a different school district or apply to a specialized program, their previous actions of using a false address may come to light. This can impact the child’s chances of getting accepted and create a negative perception of the parent’s integrity.

Alternatives to Residency Fraud

Legal transfer options

If using a grandparent’s address for school enrollment is not a feasible option for your family, there are legal transfer options available that can allow your child to attend a school outside of your designated district.

These options may include inter-district transfers, intradistrict transfers, or open enrollment programs. It is important to research and understand the specific requirements and procedures for these transfers, as they can vary from district to district.

Magnet schools and dual language programs

In addition to legal transfer options, another alternative to consider is enrolling your child in a magnet school or a dual language program. These specialized schools often have their own enrollment criteria and may accept students from different districts or areas.

Magnet schools focus on specific subjects such as science, arts, or technology, providing a unique educational experience for students. Dual language programs offer instruction in two languages, promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism.

Charter schools

Charter schools are another option worth exploring. These publicly funded schools operate independently from the traditional public school system and often have their own admissions process. While some charter schools may have enrollment preferences based on residency, others may accept students from outside their district.

It is advisable to check with the individual charter schools in your area to determine their enrollment policies and procedures.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @charteralliance (@charteralliance)



If none of the above options suit your needs, homeschooling is a viable alternative. Homeschooling allows parents to take full responsibility for their child’s education, providing flexibility and customization.

There are various resources available online and in local communities to support homeschooling families, including curriculum materials, support groups, and co-op programs. It is important to research the legal requirements and regulations for homeschooling in your state or country.

Remember, it is crucial to prioritize your child’s education while also ensuring that you are following the appropriate legal procedures. It is always recommended to consult with school officials or educational experts for guidance on the best options available in your specific situation.


While the appeal of sending your child to a high-performing school outside of your home district is understandable, attempting to bypass residency requirements through address fraud is extremely risky. The consequences of getting caught can be severe, far outweighing any short-term benefits.

Parents have options like transfers, charter schools, magnet programs, and homeschooling that allow access to quality education without breaking the law. With some research and planning, you can find legal alternatives to residency fraud that set your child up for success.

Similar Posts