Your school district no longer believes your child is a legal resident, and so a school inspector is coming for a home visit. Embarrassed by the trash and dirty socks, you nag your child to clean up his or her room. Well, not so fast! This is the one time a messy room is actually a good thing.

Questions about your residency may come to the school’s attention from a student’s remark or a piece of returned mail. You may then get a letter notifying you that the school will dis-enroll your child unless you request a hearing. As an alternative, the school may ask to meet you, or they may request a home visit.

During a home visit, an inspector looks for evidence that you really live where you say. With much of their time lived online, teenagers don’t collect as many things as they used to. Or maybe you are the kind of parent who spoils your child with love rather than stuff. But in this regard, a tidy room or a lack of material things works against you. Schools have actually denied residency to parents on this basis. They need to see plenty of items in the closets and drawers, posters on the wall and a toothbrush in the bathroom.

If you receive a residency notice from your district, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. Do not try to handle the situation yourself. Most parents do not understand the legal issues involved well enough to avoid digging themselves in deeper. For example, the fact you own property or pay property taxes in the district is not a defense.

An attorney can help present the evidence of your child’s residency in the best possible light. Even if you lose at the school hearing level, it is essential to make a complete factual record before the hearing officer because an appellate court is limited to those facts in reviewing your case.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school law matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)