Last week, Mayor Mike Rawlings' former chief of staff Adam McGough officially announced that he's running for the Lake Highlands District 10 City Council seat soon to be vacated by Jerry Allen. Almost immediately, murmurs began on social media about the fact that, at least until recently, McGough's two school-aged kids attended Bradfield Elementary in Highland Park, despite McGough's claim that he lives in Lake Highlands.
McGough would eventually confirm as much, telling the Lake Highlands Advocate and The Dallas Morning News that the kids attended Bradfield until December. In January, they began attending Scofield Christian School in Lake Highlands. McGough -- who did not reply to Unfair Park's request for comment -- gave the News a simple, if a little strange, explanation. Two years in advance of their oldest son starting kindergarten, McGough said, he and wife Lacy bought a condo in Highland Park. When their son started school, Lacy moved into the condo. The McGoughs' two other children, including an infant, lived at the condo too, McGough said. Adam McGough stayed at the Lake Highlands home he and his wife purchased in 2006.
A few things should be pointed out here. First, the Highland Park condo is a one-bedroom. The Lake Highlands home is more than 2,800 square feet. Additionally, Lacy McGough filed a homestead exemption for the Lake Highlands property after its purchase. Dallas County has no record of her having filed a new exemption for the Highland Park condo.
From the state of Texas' homestead exemption FAQ:
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Do all homes qualify for homestead exemptions?
No, only a homeowner's principal residence qualifies. To qualify, a home must meet the definition of a residence homestead: The home's owner must be an individual (for example: not a corporation or other business entity) and use the home as his or her principal residence on January 1 of the tax year. If you are age 65 or older, or disabled, the January 1 ownership and residency are not required for the age 65 or disabled homestead exemption."
Had Lacy McGough moved to the Highland Park condo in 2012, as described by Adam McGough, she no longer would have been qualified to claim the Lake Highlands house as her homestead. If she didn't live in the condo, choosing instead to stay with her husband and three young children in the spacious Lake Highlands home, the McGoughs were clearly on the wrong side of Highland Park ISD's residency requirements. From the district's website:
"I've heard that a family living outside the district can enroll a child in HPISD if they lease an apartment and sleep in it during the week. Is that correct?
The situation described does not meet the residency requirement. The primary residence must be within HPISD. FD(REGULATION) defines residency as follows:
"A person resides in the district if the true, primary, physical place where the person lives with the intent to remain for a considerable amount of time is within the boundaries of the district. A person's residence is the fixed, permanent, and principal place of habitation that is the center of the person's domestic, social, and civic life. A person can reside in only one place at a time.""