Return to Headlines

CCIU releases independent review of UCFSD residency practices

Downingtown, PA – According to an independent review conducted by the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD) acted in good faith regarding residency issues in the school district. The findings and recommendations of the investigation were presented at an executive session of the UCFSD Board of School Directors on July 14. The report has been published on the Chester County Intermediate Unit website, and can be downloaded by clicking UCFSD Residency Report.

Superintendent Dr. John Sanville assumed leadership of the district on September 1, 2011, and inherited a student residency issue that dated back to 2004. The case involved alleged non-resident students attending UCFSD schools. Superintendent Sanville commissioned the CCIU in February of 2014 to undertake an objective review of this specific residency case, and UCFSD residency policies and practices as a whole.

“The existing residency policy is sound,” concluded Dr. Joseph J. O’Brien, CCIU executive director, following a four-month review that included cost data analysis, interviews with the superintendent and board members, including former board member Dr. Holly Manzone, and an examination of UCFSD’s and 14 other local school districts’ residency practices.

The CCIU’s report provides an analysis of current UCFSD practices related to student residency, evaluates the district’s handling of the specific residency case, assesses the cost-effectiveness of current residency investigation practices and determines that UCFSD’s policies and practices conform to industry standards.

Specific recommendations to the Board include adhering to the existing policy and accompanying administrative procedures consistently, and to review these procedures every two years. Furthermore, CCIU recommends the administrative residency review point-of-contact be the business manager, whose function is to protect and conserve the district’s resources.

“The Unionville-Chadds Ford Board has undertaken a comprehensive review of their residency policies and procedures – making sound changes to the existing policies and procedures – and even implementing whole new policies to supersede the old policies,” said Dr. O’Brien.

Regarding the specific residency case, a key finding centered on whether a deal had been made with the family in question. “There was no deal made by Dr. Sanville and/or the UCFSD Board with the family in question,” concluded Dr. O’Brien. “Dr. Sanville inherited this residency case from the previous administrative team – and he was the first superintendent to move on the family in question. He was motivated to do so by the good intentions of Dr. Manzone to bring this issue to the attention of the Board and administration.”

When compared with 14 other districts in Chester County and the surrounding region, the costs associated with investigating residency in UCFSD were found to be aligned, if not lower. The established procedures are therefore cost-effective for the district.

Over a three-year period, the district spent about $37,805 on student residency issues. The per pupil cost of services in UCFSD is more than $18,700, and the report, therefore, concludes that the amount expended by the district to verify residency is valid. Furthermore, in comparison with 14 other districts in Chester and Delaware counties, the report concludes UCFSD spends an appropriate amount of money and time on student residency issues.

“The specific reputation of UCFSD is truly world class – and this is the school district of choice for many people,” explained Dr. O’Brien. “Unfortunately, such a quality school district can become very attractive to non-residents who live in nearby areas, and the school district must assume the burden of ensuring that taxpayers of Unionville-Chadds Ford do not pay for the educational program of non-residents.”

The final report is available for review at UCFSD Residency Report. For specific questions, please contact Mary Curley, CCIU Director of Communications and Learning Solutions at 484-237-5171, or Dr. Joseph O’Brien, CCIU Executive Director at 484-237-5010.

About the CCIU: The Chester County Intermediate Unit is an educational service agency that exists to provide quality, cost-effective services to the community and its residents. The Chester County Intermediate Unit administers instructional, enrichment and administrative programs and services to Chester County’s 12 public school districts and to over 45 private and parochial schools in the county. These programs include instructional, remedial and enrichment services for regular and special education students. Other IU services support teachers, school administrators and school directors. The diversity of CCIU programs enables IU staff to interact with school district personnel at all levels and to maintain a cohesive educational network throughout Chester County.