You just received a letter from your child’s school claiming your child is not a district resident and threatening to disenroll him or her. The letter informs you of your right to a hearing. You want the hearing, but question whether you really need an attorney.

It cannot be stressed enough that parents who go to hearing unprepared are overwhelmingly likely to lose and to undermine their chances on appeal. This is true even if you have an attorney, but that attorney does not understand the basics of school residency.

To prove residency, you must have physical presence in the district along with an intent to make the district your permanent home. A temporary residence may also entitle your child to attend school as long as the residence was not established for the sole purpose of attending the schools. You must show the residence was your family’s intended “home base” for day to day living and child care. In determining such intent, your actions speak louder than words.

Having a qualified attorney at the school hearing level does not guarantee a win but does improve your chances. Note that the hearing freezes the evidence for an appeal. A court will not overturn a school board’s determination of facts unless that determination is against the manifest weight of the evidence and the opposite conclusion is clearly evident. An experienced attorney can help present as much favorable evidence as possible at your hearing, so if an appeal becomes necessary, you will have a fighting chance.

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

Source: Gwozdz v. Board of Education of Park Ridge-Niles School District No. 64.

(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.)