Residency Policy 

In order to attend Boston Public Schools, a student must actually reside in the City of Boston. The residence of a minor child is presumed to be the legal, primary residence of the parent(s) or guardian(s) who have physical custody of the child.

“Residence” is the primary place where a person dwells permanently, not temporarily, and is the place that is the center of his or her domestic, social, and civic life. Temporary residence in the City of Boston, solely for the purpose of attending a Boston public school, shall not be considered residency.

In determining residency, Boston Public Schools reserves its right to request a variety of documentation and to conduct investigation into where a student actually resides. Because residency can, and does, change for students and their families during the course of the academic year, Boston Public Schools may continue to verify residency after the commencement of classes. Also, Boston Public Schools may act upon anonymous tips it receives to conduct a residency verification investigation.

  

Verification

Before any student is assigned or invited to attend a Boston Public School, his/her parent or legal guardian must provide the following required proofs of primary residency to a BPS Welcome Center as part of their registration process. Applications cannot be processed without these documents. A photo ID plus these documents are required for any new student enrollment or to file a change of address.

TWO of the following documents (items cannot be from the same bullet):

  • A Utility Bill (not water or cell phone) dated within the past 60 days
  • A Deed, Mortgage Payment dated within the past 60 days, or Property Tax Bill dated within the last year
  • A current Lease, Section 8 Agreement, or BPS Landlord Affidavit
  • A W2 form dated within the year or a Payroll Stub dated within the past 60 days 
  • A Bank or Credit Card Statement dated within the past 60 days
  • A Letter from an Approved Government Agency* dated within the past 60 days

*Approved government agencies:  Departments of Revenue (DOR), Children and Family Services (DCF), Transitional Assistance (DTA), Youth Services (DYS), Social Security, any communications on Commonwealth of Massachusetts Letterhead.
This residency policy does not apply to homeless students.

Proof of residency for exam school applicants

Application to the City's three exam schools requires students who are not currently enrolled in the BPS to prove City of Boston residency no later than the first Friday in November for matriculation the following September. Applicants who have not provided proof of Boston residency by the first Friday in November will not be considered for invitation to the three schools (Boston Latin Academy, the O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science and Boston Latin School).

Penalties

Families found to be in violation of the residency policy will face strict penalties, including:

  • Immediate dismissal from school;
  • Per diem fines for the educational and related services accessed as a nonresident, which are based on the number of days the student attended school and the average per pupil cost to the district (FY 2012 per pupil cost is $14,695); and,
  • Possible legal action

Investigation and enforcement

The School Committee has approved extensive residency investigation and enforcement strategies, including:

  • Employment of a residency investigator to pursue cases of suspected residency fraud;
  • Random residency audits and spot-checks of out-of-city MBTA train stations; and
  • Establishment of an anonymous Residency Tip Line (617-635-6775) for families, staff and students to report possible residency violations.

Any family under investigation may be required to present additional proofs of residency beyond those outlined above.

Appeals

A student aggrieved by a dismissal due to failing to reside in Boston may appeal this determination through the Office of the Ombudsperson, whose decision shall be final. The request to appeal must be made within 10 days of the dismissal notice. A student may be allowed to remain in school until the administrative appeal is completed.

CHECKLIST: REQUIRED DOCUMENTS FOR BPS REGISTRATION
A list of documents families must bring to a BPS Welcome Center to complete school registration, including residency and immunization information by grade level

If you own your home, you can request a copy of the deed on-line from the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds.

Register your change of address with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Common questions about our residency policy

  • How is Boston “residency” defined?

In order to attend Boston Public Schools, a student must actually reside in the City of Boston. A student's primary residence is the place where s/he dwells permanently, not temporarily, and is the place that is the center of his or her domestic, social, and civic life. Temporary residence in the City of Boston, solely for the purpose of attending a Boston public school, shall not be considered residency. The primary residence of a minor child is presumed to be the legal residence of the parent(s) or guardian(s) who have physical custody of the child. Any student 18 years or older may establish a residence apart from his or her parent(s) or guardian(s) for school attendance purposes.

  • How does BPS verify Boston residency?

Families registering for the Boston Public Schools or submitting a change of address must demonstrate Boston residency by submitting two documents from an authorized list of acceptable proofs. A photo ID is also required. Call any Welcome Center or see above for a complete list of acceptable proofs of residency. In order to verify residency, BPS reserves the right to request additional documents and/or to conduct an investigation. Because residency can change for students and their families during the school year, BPS may verify residency at any time.  

  • Why must I bring a photo ID?

A photo ID is required for all registration, change of address, or transfer applications as proof that the person making the application matches documentation for parent/guardian status and is also the person whose name is associated with the residency proofs. Acceptable photo IDs include:

  • A Driver’s License
  • Massachusetts ID card
  • Passport
  • Military, School or Employment ID
  • Another current ID that includes both your photo and legal name
  • What if I don’t have the required proofs of residency with me when I register?

All new applicants are required to submit the required two proofs. Applicants who do not have the required documents will be asked to return to the center with the appropriate materials in order to register. Welcome Center staff will not accept any substitutions for items on the list of acceptable proofs.  

  • What is a Landlord Affidavit?

If you are a tenant at will (“month-to-month”) and do not have a written lease, there is a Boston Public Schools form that your landlord can complete and sign, called the landlord/shared tenancy affidavit, available at any Welcome Center or on-line here. This document can fulfill one of the two proofs of residency requirements.  Your landlord does not have to be present when you register, and the affidavit does not have to be notarized. However, you and s/he will be asked to sign the document stating that, under the pains and penalties of perjury, the address listed is your primary legal address.

        

  • What if I own my home but do not have a copy of the deed?

Contact the financial institution that handles your mortgage or the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds (24 New Chardon St., Boston, www.suffolkdeeds.com, 617- 788-8575).

  • What if I do not pay for utilities, or if none of the utility bills are in my name?

If you live in a household where all utilities are in someone else’s name, please choose one of the other acceptable proofs from the list. 

Landlords typically include water in their lease agreement. Therefore, someone paying a water bill may or may not necessarily live in the property associated with the water bill.   

  • Is a cell phone bill an acceptable document?

No. Only a home telephone (“land-line”) bill satisfies this requirement.

  • Why is a water bill not accepted? 

Landlords typically include water in their lease agreement. Therefore, someone paying a water bill may or may not necessarily live in the property associated with the water bill.  

  • What if I have recently moved and do not yet have two documents I can use?

To fulfill the requirements, you also may also submit a work order from any utility company stating that your service has been ordered or installed.

  • What if I cannot produce both required proofs?

If your personal circumstances make it impossible for you to provide the required proofs of residency, consult the staff at the Welcome Center. Bring copies of any proofs of residency you have, and describe the circumstances that prevent you from having the required proofs. Staff will work with you, and if necessary, fill out an application for appeal. All appeal applications will be reviewed by the Welcome Center Director and submitted to the Superintendent’s Office for decision.

  • What if I am over 18 and no longer live with my parents? 

Any person eighteen (18) years of age or older may establish a residence separate and apart from his or her parents or guardians for school attendance purposes. However, you will still be required to submit the two proofs of residency bearing your name and address.

  • What if I live with a friend or relative?

If you share housing with a friend or relative, you may use the landlord/shared tenancy affidavit, above, to fulfill one of the proofs of residency requirements.  Ask the person you are living with to complete and sign the affidavit to affirm your residence. If you are temporarily “doubled up” with a friend or relative due to economic hardship, loss of housing, or a similar reason, you may qualify as homeless under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Homeless families are not required to produce the same proofs of residency. Please contact the BPS Homeless Student Initiative (617-635-8037) or Welcome Center staff for assistance in registering your child.  

  • What if my family is homeless?

The proof of residency policy does not apply to homeless students and families. Contact the BPS Homeless Education Resource Network (617-635-8037) or visit a Welcome Center for assistance with registering your child. If you are staying in a shelter, bring a letter from the shelter staff stating that you are living there.

  • What if I am an undocumented immigrant?

Any child whose family lives in the City of Boston is guaranteed access to a free public education in the Boston Public Schools. No family will be denied access to school because of their immigration status. Undocumented immigrant families living with friends or relatives may be considered “homeless” (see above).

  • Will documents that I submit to prove residency remain confidential?

All documents submitted to prove residency will be considered part of his or her confidential record. BPS will adhere to the standards of confidentiality set forth in state and federal laws in maintenance of these records. For more information about the confidentiality of student records, refer to A Guide to the Boston Public Schools for Families and Students.   

  • How does the residency policy apply to the exam schools?

Like all BPS students, exam school students must live in the City of Boston in order to attend the school. The residency policy requires that all applicants to the three exam schools (Boston Latin Academy, the O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science and Boston Latin School) who are not currently enrolled in BPS must prove Boston residency no later than the first Friday in November to attend school the following September. Applicants who have not provided proof of Boston residency by the first Friday in November will not be considered for invitation to any exam school. If you have questions about the exam school admissions process, call 617-635-9512.  

  • How can I report a suspected violation of the residency policy?

Families, staff, students and others can report possible residency violations by calling the anonymous Residency Tip Line, 617-635-6775.

  • What are the consequences of residency fraud?

Any student who is discovered not to reside in the City of Boston will be dismissed from the Boston Public Schools and fined for the educational and related services accessed while a nonresident. Additional penalties –legal action and notification to other city, state and federal agencies– may be imposed on families found to be in violation of the residency policy. The student’s family may appeal this determination through the Ombudsperson within ten days of the initial notification, whose decision shall be final. A student may remain in school until the appeal process is completed.

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Welcome Centers
 
Dorchester
(617) 635-8015 
Campbell Resource Center
1216 Dorchester Ave.
Dorchester, 02125
(next to Burger King) 
Help in Cape Verdean creole, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese
 
Roxbury
(617) 635-9010
Madison Park Complex
75 Malcolm X Blvd.
Roxbury, 02120
(near Roxbury Crossing MBTA)
Help in Cantonese, English, Haitian creole, Mandarin and Spanish 
 
Roslindale
(617) 635-8040
Jennie Barron Bldg.
515 Hyde Park Ave.
Roslindale, 02131
(near Cummins Hwy.)
Help in Cape Verdean creole, English, French, Haitian creole, Portuguese and Spanish 
 
East Boston
(617) 635-9597
Mario Umana Academy
312 Border St.
East Boston, 02128
Help in English and Spanish 
 
Use BPSExpress to complete demographic information and even choose schools before your visit to a Welcome Center.
 
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Summer hours, 2014:
  • BPS Welcome Centers will be closed June 30 through July 18 for summer recess. 
  • From July 21 to August 1, only the Welcome Center Roxbury location will be open during regular hours, while annual repairs and maintenance are being done to the other sites. The Roslindale and Dorchester sites will re-open August 4. 
  • The East Boston Satellite will re-open on August 26 through September 12, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • The Mattapan Satellite will have a grand opening on August 21, and will remain open through the school year on Thursdays and Fridays.