DENTON (CBSDFW) – Jeri Kay Kao has nothing but compliments for her son’s teachers over the last 10 years. She calls them fabulous.READ MORE: Fort Worth Residents Concerned About Plans To Replace Nearly 100-Year-Old Forest Park Pool
Under their guidance, her son Simon progressed steadily through Denton ISD’s deaf education program. Then the high school sent her an email in October, starting a 10-month effort where she and her husband had to prove their names, Simon’s name, and essentially if they were all really related.
“And to me that kind of hinted at, maybe you’re not really who you say you are,” she said.
This week, after a call from CBS11, Denton ISD told the Kao’s it had all the documentation it needed on Zachary. He will be in school to start the year. The Kao’s still aren’t sure though why there was such a push for information, when state requirements for enrolling a student in school are fairly simple.
The Kao’s adopted Zachary when they lived in Taiwan. After a few years there, they moved to Decatur, where their son took the English name of Zachary, reflected on his new birth certificate, social security card and passport.
The email from the Denton High School counseling department in October said it found a discrepancy in the parent names on Zachary’s birth certificate. The administrative assistant requested a marriage license, and driver’s license for Simon Kao.
State education code says the person enrolling a child for school, needs to provide a name, address and date of birth. The child needs to have a birth certificate, immunization record and any prior school records. Schools can ask to see driver’s licenses for campus visitors, but the Texas Education Agency told us it’s not a requirement for enrollment.READ MORE: Cook Children’s Halts Elective Surgeries Due To Staff, Bed Shortages During COVID-19 Surge
It turned out the birth certificate listed the names of Zachary’s birth parents, not his adoptive parents. The request from the district though was the first in a series of emails, phone calls and official letters. As late as August 6, the school still wanted name-change documentation for Zachary and his father.
“They told me that because anyone could say they were his parents, so, they wanted to make sure we were his parents,” Kao said.
A spokesperson for Denton ISD said a review of incoming freshman records is routine. The push to clarify names he said was likely for safety reasons, citing cases of students enrolling under assumed names, or the possibility of non-custodial parents picking up children.
State code requires districts to notify law enforcement if 30 days go by without proper identifying documentation being provided. There was no information that happened in this case.
A review of enrollment policies listed online in other school districts show several tell parents they are required to submit driver’s licenses for identification when enrolling their children for school.
The district could not say if the audit that started the issues for the Kao’s, caused similar problems with other families in the district.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Vaccines Don't Impact Fertility, But The Virus Does, Doctors Say
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