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School boardmember under investigation

Weber-Phillips (click for larger version)
May 26, 2010 - Law enforcement officers are looking into allegations that Lake Orion School Boardmember Tiffany Weber-Phillips does not live in the school district, according to Superintendent Ken Gutman. Rumors suggest Weber-Phillips and her family live in Oxford's school district instead.

If the allegations are true, Weber-Phillips would not meet eligibility requirements to serve on the board as outlined in the district's policies, and would be in violation of Michigan election law, according to Oakland County's Elections Division.

Weber-Phillips denies the allegations and calls her house on Park Island the family's "homestead."

"We purchased the home in Lake Orion five or six years ago and that's always been our residence. Everything is at that address. That's where we live," she said. "I would say we're in the Lake Orion house 90 percent of the time."

But, her Lake Orion neighbors say the family hasn't stayed at that house for months. According to three residents in close proximity, the house is instead a cottage or vacation home a place used for entertaining or staying for an occasional weekend and two or three weeks in the summer.

Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh said officers did conduct an investigation at Weber-Phillips' Lake Orion residence just after noon, Thursday, May 20, but said he could not comment further.

Board President Bill Walters indicated Weber-Phillips will continue to serve in the same capacity on the board until results from the investigation are made public.

"Aren't we working on an innocent until proven guilty premise? As far as we know, Tiffany is a trustee," said Walters, adding, "There is no policy regarding this, there's nothing official [for the board] to do."

School officials say investigating Weber-Phillips' residency was very similar to the process used when a student's residency is in question.

According to Gutman, residency is a legal issue, so the district's Oakland County Sheriff's liaison worked in conjunction with Lake Orion Police Department to investigate.

"LOCS is not a part of, nor has any input on, the residency check. Upon completion of the residency check, the police liaison provides the results to LOCS," he said.

Gutman also said Weber-Phillips' Oxford house was also investigated, "due to the specifics in the allegations."

According to Walters, the school board has no authority to discipline or reprimand another trustee "for these matters."

"They're elected officials so there's a higher authority, like the township, to determine someone's eligibility," he said.

Walters also said he doesn't put stock in what Weber-Phillips' Lake Orion neighbors claimed about her residence there.

"It's not my place to judge gossip. And unfortunately, that's all that is second hand opinion," he said.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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