In a story we first told you on NBC Bay Area last Friday, the tension between one South Bay family and the Los Gatos Union School District (LGUSD) is coming to a head.
Tuesday morning, the Edwards family walked 9-year-old Ella and 7-year-old Sarah into the Van Meter Elementary school office – only to be greeted by the superintendent and two police officers.
“That’s when my heart sank, when I heard there were police officers just to prevent my girls from going to the school they belong in,” said Shuly Edwards, the girls’ mother, before she began to cry.
Edwards said she, her husband, and three young daughters have lived in a Los Gatos apartment since August 1st, as her sister rents out their Campbell house for her family of five. Edwards added that the family was able to successfully enroll the two girls at Van Meter before the August 20th school start date using PG&E and doctors bills, and that the superintendent only revoked the girls’ enrollment after the family pushed for more help for the nut allergies.
But LGUSD Superintendent Diana Abbati called that accusation “ridiculous.” She said there was a big change at the end of September when returned mail and another parent tipped her off that the Edwards were not living at their Los Gatos apartment. Abbati said it was time to then send out the district’s “residency officer,” a part-time investigator dedicated to following up on whether families truly live and sleep where they claim.
“We actually have them do video surveillance and we actually had them followed four days and four nights to make sure we’re actually doing our due diligence, whether or not they are coming and going and living within the district, “ Abbati said. “They were coming and leaving this other residence in another district.”
The Edwards family maintained they’ve lived in the small Los Gatos apartment for the sake of their girls. This would be the fifth consecutive school the oldest daughter, Ella, has been turned away from. Edwards says the four previous schools in different districts openly stated they couldn’t and wouldn’t deal with the severe nut allergies.
There was one big change of heart Tuesday. Abbati decided to allow the girls to return to class tomorrow as both sides figured out the residency issues. Abbati added that in her first year as superintendent at LGUSD last fall, she called police to handle similar residency situations with two different families. She said the first step would be to call police because children whose enrollment has been revoked no longer belong on respective school campuses. If that doesn’t work, Abbati said Child Protective Services would be the next step.
As for neighboring school districts, administrators at both Campbell and Moreland said as far as they knew, no situation involving residency had ever escalated to involve law enforcement.