By Chase Cavanaugh
A DeKalb-based church is cautioning local residents not to respond to private investigators believed to be working to verify the residency of students.
The DeKalb School District was sued in October for allegedly enrolling around 1,000 students who don’t live in the district. The school board introduced a private-investigating firm at a previous meeting, but didn’t confirm the investigators would be used to verify residency.
Joe Mitchell is Senior Pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. He worries use of private investigators may be an attempt at racial profiling.
“The largest growing demographic of this school district is African-American and Latino,” Mitchell said. “As a matter of fact, I believe last year or the year before was the first time this district was over 50% minority.”
Mitchell says sudden visits by these investigators may entrap families and risk the education of their children:
“You don’t know what verbiage they may try to use to trap you into a statement where you’re here, your tax dollars have been paid here but, based on the statement you say, they’re going to say that, ‘Well, we’re not sure if they’re actually a resident.’”
New Hope Church’s warning tells families they don’t have to respond to investigators or supposed law enforcement officers at their door, and offers contact information for several legal firms.
DeKalb School District Superintendent Jamie Craven said they were in phase three of a “residency investigation” but he couldn’t comment further because of the October lawsuit.
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church is holding a public forum about the issue on April 30.