Jersey Parents Hit with Huge Tuition Bill for Faking NYC Residency

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It's a parent's job to do what's best for their child, but when it comes to a public school education, that job begins and ends in the boundaries of their school district. That is, if the parents are playing by the rules, which one New Jersey family chose to circumvent. After getting busted, they're now essentially hemorrhaging money.

In 2005, the couple, Jill Schifter and Anthony Maulella, registered their daughter for seventh grade at the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan, using household bills in their name that were sent to a Fifth Avenue address. In 2007, their daughter started high school at LaGuardia, a prestigious Manhattan performing arts public high school. It was a "fake it 'til you make it" move to position their daughter for success, but the plan fell apart one year short of high school graduation, according to the New York Times' City Room blog.

Tax fraud and insurance fraud are always making headlines, but high school education fraud? That's not exactly a lesson you want to teach your children, not that the others are. The couple now owes the city's Department of Education between $20,000 and $25,000 for five swindled years. After an anonymous tip and an investigation, the Education Department's special commissioner of investigation, Richard J. Condon, found that the couple used a friend's Upper East Side address but really lived in North Bergen, New Jersey, which also means the daughter's commute to school was nothing short of miserable.

Ms. Schifter's lawyer said the daughter was living with her father on West 106th Street after the couple separated, but investigators found that the couple rented the apartment as a decoy address to secure their daughter's education.

So, the parents have been paying rent on an Upper West Side apartment, have most likely been paying for their daughter's daily Jersey to Manhattan commute, have been paying a lawyer to defend what sounds like a ridiculous case -- and now they're being charged at least $20,000 in back tuition. Wow, it doesn't add up to be an overreaching stage mom. Let's hope this kid makes it to Broadway.

[LM]

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