Proof of Residency FAQs

The residency requirements of the Somerville Public Schools are designed to help ensure that only families who live in Somerville have full access to educational opportunities offered by the SPS. These requirements include (1) stringent proofs of residency, as that term is defined within the policy, and (2) penalties for families found to be in violation of the policy.


Questions
1)  How is Somerville “residency” defined?
2)  How does Somerville Public Schools verify Somerville residency?
3)  What if I don’t have the required proofs of residency with me when I register?
4)  What if I don’t have a lease?
5)  What can I use for proof of recent rent or mortgage payment?
6)  What if I own my home but do not have a copy of the deed?
7)  What if I own a home but do not pay a mortgage?
8)  What if I do not pay for utilities or if none of the utility bills are in my name?
9)  Is a cell phone bill an acceptable document to satisfy Column B?
10)  What if I have recently moved and have not yet received any utility bills?
11)  What if I cannot produce all required proofs?
12)  What if I live with a friend or relative?
13)  What if my family does not have any permanent residence?
14)  What if I am an undocumented immigrant?
15)  Will documents that I submit to prove residency remain confidential?
16)  How can I report a suspected violation of the residency requirements?
17)  What are the consequences of residency fraud?
 
Answers
1)  Q How is Somerville “residency” defined?
A
In order to attend the SPS, a student must actually reside in the City of Somerville. “Residence” is the 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 Somerville, solely for the purpose of attending a Somerville public school, shall not be considered residency. The 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. This presumption, however, may be rebutted, if there is evidence that the child actually resides elsewhere.
2)  Q How does Somerville Public Schools verify Somerville residency?
A
Families applying to register a child in the SPS or submitting a change of address must demonstrate Somerville residency by submitting one document from each of two categories listed on registration overview.

The Somerville Public Schools reserves the right to request additional documents and/or to conduct an investigation. Because residency may change during the school year, school officials may require verification of residency at any time. Families who change residency during the year must report such change immediately to the Principal of each school in which their children are enrolled, and must provide verification of continued Somerville residency upon request.
3)  Q What if I don’t have the required proofs of residency with me when I register?
A
All new applicants must submit three required proofs of residency. Applicants who do not have the required documents will be asked to return to the PIC with the appropriate materials before beginning the registration process. PIC staff will not accept any substitutions for items on the list of acceptable proofs of residency.
4)  Q What if I don’t have a lease?
A
If you are a tenant at-will (“month-to-month”) and do not have a written lease, ask your landlord to complete and sign the landlord/shared tenancy affidavit. This form is available by visiting or calling the PIC and it can be downloaded from our website. This affidavit, along with evidence of your most recent rent payment, will fulfill the proof of residency requirement for Column A. Your landlord does not need to be present when you register, and the affidavit does not need to be notarized.
5)  Q What can I use for proof of recent rent or mortgage payment?
A
You may present a copy of a money order, cancelled check, or rent receipt. You also may present a copy of a bank statement that shows an automatic deduction for rent or mortgage payment.
6)  Q What if I own my home but do not have a copy of the deed?
A
Contact the financial institution that handles your mortgage or the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds.
7)  Q What if I own a home but do not pay a mortgage?
A
If you no longer pay a mortgage on your home, you must submit a copy of the property deed, along with a copy of the discharge of mortgage. This will satisfy your proof of residency requirement for Column A.
8)  Q What if I do not pay for utilities or if none of the utility bills are in my name?
A
If you live in a household where all utilities are listed in the name of your landlord or someone else, AND if this is noted on your lease or landlord/shared tenancy affidavit, then you may submit proof of residency for Column B in the name of your landlord or the person you pays the bills. If your lease specifies that all utilities are included, and you do not have a home telephone ("land-line telephone") or cable television, PIC staff will verify this information and your application will be processed.
9)  Q Is a cell phone bill an acceptable document to satisfy Column B?
A
No. Only a home telephone (land-line telephone) bill satisfies this requirement.
10)  Q What if I have recently moved and have not yet received any utility bills?
A
To fulfill the requirements of Column B, you may submit a work order from any utility company stating that your service has been ordered or installed.
11)  Q What if I cannot produce all required proofs?
A
If your personal circumstances make it impossible for you to provide proof of residency from each of the three columns, consult the staff at the PIC. Bring copies of any proofs of residency you have, and describe the circumstances that prevent you from having the required proofs.
12)  Q What if I live with a friend or relative?
A
If you share housing with a friend or relative, you may use the landlord/shared tenancy residency affidavit to fulfill the proof of residency requirement for Column A. This form is available by visiting or calling the PIC and it can be downloaded from our website. Ask your friend or relative to complete and sign the affidavit to affirm your residence.
13)  Q What if my family does not have any permanent residence?
A
The proof of residency requirements do not apply to homeless students and families covered by the McKinney-Vento Act. Contact the PIC for assistance with registering your child, if you believe that you qualify as homeless under the Act. If you are staying in a shelter, bring a letter from the shelter staff stating that you are living there.
14)  Q What if I am an undocumented immigrant?
A
No child who actually resides in the City of Somerville will be denied access to school because of his or her immigration status.
15)  Q Will documents that I submit to prove residency remain confidential?
A
All documents submitted to prove residency will be marked with the student’s name and considered part of his or her confidential record. The SPS will adhere to the standards of confidentiality set forth in state and federal laws governing the maintenance and disclosure of these records.
16)  Q How can I report a suspected violation of the residency requirements?
A
Families, staff, students and others can report possible residency violations by calling the Supervisors of Attendance, 617-625-6600 X6352.
17)  Q What are the consequences of residency fraud?
A
Any student who is discovered not to reside in the City of Somerville will be dismissed from the SPS. Additional penalties – including fines and legal action – may be imposed on families found to be in violation of the residency policy.