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More than 350 students withdrawn from Westlake High over residency eligibility

The school district first notified parents they would be verifying residency in November, and the students were withdrawn Jan. 11.

ATLANTA — More than 350 students were withdrawn from Westlake High School as the Fulton County school district returned from Winter Holidays break, the district said.

The removals occurred in the 9th and 10th grades and were conducted as the high school deals with overcapacity issues. 

Fulton County Schools said residency verification checks were conducted beginning in November. In a letter sent to parents at that time, the district said a redistricting policy would soon be in effect with a school board vote that set new attendance boundaries.

"The main driver for this redistricting effort was the current and projected overcrowding of Westlake High School, which is more than 500 students above its building capacity," the letter stated. A staff analysis concluded a "higher-than-normal" enrollment pattern "raises speculation that there are students attending Westlake that do not live in its attendance zone."

Parents were asked to provide one property-related document and two utility-related documents to prove residency.

In December, another round of letters went to parents of students whose residency was determined as ineligible for Westlake or to those who had submitted no documentation at all.

A final letter was issued on Jan. 10, and the students were withdrawn the next day. The district said of the 350, about 150 did not meet residency requirements, while another 200 never submitted documentation.

In response to an 11Alive question, Fulton County Schools did not say how many of the students were able to enroll in another school within the district or if they transferred to districts.

"It is the parents' responsibility to enroll their child in the school where they have primary residency," a district response said.

Fulton Schools added in a statement: "Westlake High School is an amazing school with current enrollment beyond capacity. Overcrowding creates safety concerns and reduces the space for students whose families legitimately live within the attendance zone. Taking resources away from these students for those who do not live in the community is not fair. Since last fall, Fulton County Schools has been asking for proper verification of residency and welcomes all students who reside in the Westlake attendance zone.”

The district said that staff was on-site at the school the week after Thanksgiving break and in early January to help parents with verification before withdrawals were conducted. 

You can see the letters that were sent to parents below:

First letter, Nov. 16, 2022

Second letter, Dec. 14, 2022

Third letter, Jan. 10, 2023


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