Suit ac­cuses ex-prin­ci­pal of help­ing kin avoid tuition bill

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE REGION - BY EMMA BROWN browne@wash­post.com

A former D.C. prin­ci­pal al­legedly lied about her great-grand­son’s home ad­dress so he could at­tend her school for free, avoid­ing nearly $25,000 in non-res­i­dent tuition, ac­cord­ing to a civil suit filed Fri­day in D.C. Su­pe­rior Court.

D.C. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Irvin B. Nathan promised in a state­ment to “vig­or­ously pros­e­cute this se­ri­ous breach of pub­lic trust by a self-deal­ing school of­fi­cial.”

Bar­bara Camp­bell served two decades as prin­ci­pal of Lang­don Ed­u­ca­tion Cam­pus, a pub­lic school pre-kinder­garten through eighth grade. She left the North­east Washington school last year.

She is ac­cused of con­spir­ing with two adult rel­a­tives — her daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter — to falsely claim that her great-grand­son lived in the District. In fact, the boy lived with Camp­bell in Fort Washington, court doc­u­ments al­lege, and he rode with her to Lang­don ev­ery day dur­ing the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

The boy also at­tended Lang­don for the first 13 days of this school year, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Non-res­i­dents are al­lowed to at­tend D.C. pub­lic schools if they pay tuition. Camp­bell and her fam­ily mem­bers owe $24,707.90 in un­paid non-res­i­dent tuition, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors, who are seek­ing ad­di­tional dam­ages and penal­ties that to­gether could ex­ceed $75,000. D.C. law al­lows the District to col­lect up to three times the amount of di­rect dam­ages that the city sus­tains.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view Fri­day, Camp­bell called the al­le­ga­tions un­founded and un­fair.

She said that her great-grand­son did live in the District with his mother and his grand­mother but that the three of them have vis­ited her daily since her hus­band died in 2009. They spend ev­ery night with her in Fort Washington to help her through her grief, she said.

“I should be fur­ther along with this griev­ing be­cause my hus­band’s been de­ceased, it’ ll be four years in March,” Camp­bell said. “But I’m not quite there yet.”

Asked how the boy could be a res­i­dent of the District if he spends ev­ery night in Mary­land, Camp­bell said she has con­sid­ered the boy and his mother home­less be­cause they were kicked out of their apart­ment in 2009. “We tried to make the best of the sit­u­a­tion,” she said.

The boy is now en­rolled in a school in Fort Washington, she said.

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