A Washington D.C. Superior Court judge handed down a harsh False Claims Act (FCA) penalty to a Maryland couple who had enrolled three children in some of D.C.’s best public schools for more than a decade.
Alan and Candace Hill, both of whom are D.C. police officers, have been ordered to pay $539,000 for fraudulently enrolling their children in D.C. schools between 2003 and 2013. According to the D.C. Attorney General, the Hills and their children lived at various locations in Maryland and Virginia during that time.
Mr. Hill owned a home in D.C. that he rented to tenants, using that address to enroll the children in “some of the city’s most coveted public schools,” the Washington Post reported.
“D.C. taxpayers should not be subsidizing the education of children from other states,” Attorney General Karl Racine said. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who falsely claim District residency in order to obtain government benefits to which they are not entitled.”
The District filed the lawsuit against the Hills in June 2015, alleging the children attended John Eaton Elementary School, Alice Deal Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School, all of which are near the Northwest Police Station where the Hills worked.
D.C. law requires non-District residents whose children attend city schools to pay nonresident tuition per student per year. Nonresident tuition at those schools ranges from $7,000 to $10,000 annually.
As with the federal False Claims Act, damages under the D.C. act are tripled. D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck ordered the Hills to pay the city $448,047 under the D.C. False Claims Act and about $90,000 in other fines. The judge calculated the amount the Hills owed under the FCA by tripling the amount the parents should have paid to the school system for nonresident tuition.
In recent years, the District has invested millions of dollars into school improvements, and the efforts have resulted in rising academic achievements. The issue of nonresidents enrolling their children in the D.C. school system has become a touchy one in a city bordered by two states and a highly mobile population. The Washington Post reports some frustrated residents talk of remaining on a waiting list for schools while cars with Virginia and Maryland license plates drop children off at school.