Thursday, September 11, 2014

Adventures in Registration

Our first real goal getting to Louisiana was to get our kids registered in the charter school that served our new area. Louisiana has had, shall we say, "issues" with education in the recent past, not really making the national grade. I didn't want our kids, who had been in a very, very difficult district, to become bored and slack off, especially Brett, so I'd found this charter school that had ONE slot left in the 8th grade, none for 5th, but I was betting if we showed up with both kids, they'd take both. Then we had a dilemma. How to prove residency when we'd arrived only days before, and even if we hadn't, nothing is in our name since we're living with my uncle. The solution? Get Louisiana driver's licenses! Of course, some of that residency stuff may come into play, but we made a plan that if my uncle's information would be needed, we'd contact him. So Monday, we went with the goal of registering ourselves as drivers and our kids as students!

A little back story is necessary for this tale. Prior to leaving Illinois, I had the amazing idea to amass our social security cards, birth certificates, shot records for the kids, transfer papers from their schools into one folder. Yes, I AM a genius! When amassing these documents, I noted ONCE AGAIN that we only had the hospital copy of Scott's birth certificate. I marveled at that 16 years ago when he moved down to Illinois from Wisconsin and he was going for his driver's license there.  I assured him they would want the certified copy his mom had never bothered to follow through on getting. They took the hospital copy. When we got our marriage license, I told him we'd need the certified copy. They took the hospital copy. I was starting to see how people vote "early and often" in Chicago. I again said he might want to get the certified copy before we left. He assured me they'd take the hospital copy.

As a Chicagoan (and then Chicago suburbanite), I'm used to DMV facilities with long, complex lines that are set in stone, even if you've stood in the wrong one for and hour. There is a sea of humanity and every nationality teeming while waiting at Chicago DMV faciliites. There's a separate person JUST to give information and get people in the correct line. What we entered was a small room with about 20 chairs mostly filled, three people waiting on individuals, no separate lines. Unfortunately, we'd brought the kids, so we were settled in for some whining.  Luckily, one of the workers called up everyone who was just doing renewals and banged out a bunch of people. Soon enough, it was our turn. I'm good with my paperwork, all is wonderful! Scott? Not so much. They didn't take the hospital copy (DUH! That felt good.).  I'll fill you in on what's needed to get your information from Cook County when you're outside the state in another posting. Turns out, they didn't need ANY proof of address.  None, zippo, nada! I just TOLD them where we were living, and they TOOK MY WORD for it. I really didn't know what to make of that, so I sat there blankly. With my spanking new driver's license and voter registration--btw, I'm an organ donor too--we set off for the school.

When I registered my kids for school, not only were their birth certificates, social security cards, and immunization records required, we needed two bills with our names and addresses on them, one having to be our property tax bill, and a vial of blood.  Oh, just kidding on that last one, but the registration gal was eyeing up my veins. I thought Louisiana would be no different. They are. We were ALL worried about proving residence, and they basically didn't care. Birth certificates and immunizations were necessary, but again, they didn't even LOOK at my driver's license. How TRUSTING and totally disconcerting. I was right about them taking both kids, whew! The principal is super nice, told us even before we filled out paperwork the kids could get free breakfast and lunch and to get supplies as needed. That was great, because this school has uniforms, granted, only khakis and navy or hunter green polos, but still, it's an expense. Plus, it took me an hour in Walmart to find things that fit, since kids here started August 8th, and everyone had picked everything over.

As most already know, Megan missed her first week of school due to hand, foot, mouth disease her brother lovingly shared with her. They were on the waiting list for the bus, but they are now riding that every day. Brett has found a friend who, thankfully, is a Boy Scout. We're still working on Megan finding both a buddy and a Girl Scout troop.

We're still a work in progress. Next up, I muster up a little outrage at Illinois!

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