Homeowners in Johnston who list out-of-town children as residents — typically done to enroll the students in Johnston schools — will face fines and a loss of their homestead exemption when they're discovered, Mayor Joseph Polisena announced this morning at Johnston Town Hall.
"We will go after these people, who are trying to rip off the system, with a vengeance," Polisena explained. "When we catch you — and we will catch you — the homeowner will pay."
Polisena held a press conference this morning with town and school officials to outline the measures being taken against homeowners who are found to be letting out-of-town families claim their addresses as a residence.
"I guess we're being penalized because Johnston has great schools," Polisena said.
Using school enrollment documents and the town's property database, Polisena said local officials can determine whether students actually live at the home.
Town Code Enforcement Officer Peter DelPonte explained that a fine of $500 per day can be assessed under the town's building codes for exceeding the stated occupancy of a home.
In most cases, Polisena explained, a single-family dwelling is found to have student names listed from two or more unrelated families.
Noting that the per-pupil cost in Johnston averages nearly $16,000, Supt. Dr. Bernard DiLullo said that the local district has added kindergarten and first grade classes to accomodate the additional students — several of whom are not Johnston residents.
Watch JohnstonPatch for more on today's press conference — including video — later today.