Posted on Jun 2, 2015
Arizona Residency Compliance for School Districts
by Christopher A. Goeman, CPA, Audit Manager
It has been nearly four years since the State issued residency guidelines but there remains uncertainty surrounding implementation of the guidelines. This article summarizes the residency requirements in statute as well as the Arizona Department of Education's (ADE) guidelines, but should not be considered exhaustive. Additionally, it addresses those areas that are commonly overlooked and opportunities for improvement in record keeping as indicated by our audits.
In order for a District to generate state aid, a student must be an Arizona resident. Residency of a student is determined by the residency of the parent or guardian with whom the student resides. Upon enrollment Districts must require parents or guardians who maintain their own residence to complete a residency attestation form and collect a document which substantiates the residency attestation. In the situation where a parent or guardian does not maintain their own residence, a signed and notarized affidavit of shared residence must be collected along with supporting documentation of residency. The State has provided sample attestation and affidavit forms for Districts to use as well as a list of acceptable pieces of documentation to support the forms at http://www.azed.gov/finance/files/2011/10/arizona-residency-guidelines.pdf
The act of verifying residency is an ongoing one. There is a common misconception that a District’s obligation to verify residency is limited to the initial enrollment when in fact Districts should also be reaffirming residency for continuing students during the annual registration process. There is another misconception that Districts are required to complete a new residency form each year to demonstrate reaffirmation of residency. This is not the case rather the District can incorporate the reaffirmation process into some of their other processes, such as the emergency card update. Language can be added that indicates the parent or guardian reaffirms their residency and current address on file as prescribed by Arizona Revised Statutes. The residency documentation should be maintained in accordance with the District’s records retention policy while keeping in mind ADE’s audit window of up to three years immediately preceding the current fiscal year at the time the monitoring or audit activity commences.
Some of the non-compliance we have noted with respect to residency documentation includes:
- Residency documentation is not collected or collected after enrollment.
- The attestation and affidavit forms are not supported by residency documentation.
- The residency documentation does not agree with the parent or guardian address as listed on the enrollment form.
- The residency documentation supports a P.O. Box address rather than a physical address.
If you should have any questions or concerns regarding your District’s residency record keeping, don’t hesitate to reach out to your audit team, Karin Smith at (602) 277-9449, x327 or CW Payne at (928) 774-4201, x204 to assist your District with best practices.
The content of these pages is for general information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C. tries to provide content that is true and accurate as of the date of writing; however, we give no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness, or applicability of any of the contents.