The children of a Joliet family that clashed with Troy School District 30-C about whether they actually live in the district were unenrolled and the family was charged more than $13,000 in tuition.
Now the children’s grandmother, Cynthia Danaher, said her family is in a tough situation. After going before the school district and then the Will County Regional Superintendent’s Office, the family had to take the children out of their school, Heritage Elementary in Joliet.
“I don’t know what to do,” Danaher said.
The family’s troubles began last year when they received notice from the school district that it conducted an investigation and found the children did not live at the Joliet house. The district alerted the family in a letter that it had evidence of the children living at an apartment in Morris where the children’s mother lived with her boyfriend, who himself had a 17-pound tumor removed from his abdomen last year.
Danaher said the district was wrong because the children stay five nights a week at her home and not at her daughter’s apartment in Morris. The children do visit their mother on the weekends, but they sleep at their grandmother’s house.
Last month, the district determined the children don’t live within its boundaries. It allowed the family to send the children to the Troy school through last week, but that was it.
The district also said the family owes $13,695.60 in tuition for this school year. Danaher said the district has spoken with her about a possible payment plan, but she said they can’t afford that bill.
Chet June, a Joliet attorney who specializes in elder and guardianship law and a former local school board member, said he’s seen instances like this before. He publishes a notice before the beginning of every school year in which he explains how the process of grandparents becoming legal guardians can be expensive because it requires court action and a judge’s approval.
June also argued that in many instances, guardianships are not needed and could require breaking the law. In cases similar to the Danahers’, if a grandparent has to become a legal guardian, the court has to find the parents “unfit” or “unwilling or unable to carry out day-to-day child care decisions concerning the minor.”
June argued it might be that the parent is not actually unfit and to assert otherwise would be false. State law prohibits giving false information to enroll kids as who are students who don’t pay tuition in a school district.
Now Danaher said her daughter will have to break her lease at the apartment in Morris and move into the Joliet home. At that point, she said, the district said it would have a discussion about re-enrolling the children.