Did Dallas City Council candidate Adam McGough buy a condo in Highland Park just for the chance to send his kids to Highland Park ISD?
McGough, a former chief of staff for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and current candidate for District 10 city council seat, says yes, but it’s not like that. Highland Park ISD officials, however, have announced they’re looking in to the whys and wheretofors of the whole situation, and just about every media outlet in Dallas is drilling down on the housing situation of the McGough family.
So here we are, looking too. And here is what we know so far: There is no actual record in the Dallas County Appraisal District website that shows either Adam or his wife, Lacy, owning any property whatsoever in Dallas. However, a perusal of the McGough’s engagement announcement gave us their legal names. Still no property listed in DCAD under Byron McGough or Lacy Moss, but a WhitePages.com search under Byron McGough gave us their Windledge Drive address.
That address turned up something interesting in DCAD, if interesting is a code word for “the owner name is withheld because of a Texas property code that says certain people can withhold their names for certain reasons.” Although, frankly, I’m not sure what the use in that is if your number is listed and your address can easily be found on White Pages.
At any rate, Adam McGough apparently took advantage of a provision in the property code that allows people deemed law enforcement (among others) to withhold their names from appraisal searches. According to his bio, as assistant city attorney he also served as a community prosecutor in Old East Dallas. We’d like to tell you what a community prosecutor does exactly, but …
So back to this condo. We can’t find any record of a McGough owning a unit, but they say they do, and the Dallas Observer (who must have more magical fingers than we do) says the unit is a one bedroom condo in Highland Park. A Dallas Morning News blog post gets a little more specific – the Crestpark highrises on Lomo Alto Drive. According to both accounts, the McGough’s insist Lacy lived with their two kids and a baby in the one bedroom condo while dad kicked back in a 2,800 square foot pad in Lake Highlands.
Which totally sounds like fun. I mean, for real, I have one almost-four-year-old and three bedrooms, and there are days when I am fairly certain he has surgically implanted himself on my face. I know there are probably families that do that, right now, in Dallas and all over the world, but the thought of that much familial togetherness 24/7 gives me the vapors, even though I love my people. So a moment of wine, right now, for Lacy McGough, if she indeed did spend two years in that situation.
Of course, there are folks (and hence the HPISD investigation) who think nobody actually ever lived in the condo (or something). They continued to claim a homestead exemption (or someone did, anyway) on the Lake Highlands home the whole time. There is one unit listed on DCAD in the same fashion as their Lake Highland’s home, and it is the only one listed that way in all the listed condos in that 4242 Lomo Alto high rise.
I did a quick search of a one bedroom unit in the high rises, and the cheapest one would’ve set them back (provided they had stellar credit and a decent down payment) about $1,000-ish (give or take a few hundred) a month, mortgage-wise. Which is completely cheaper than private school tuition for two kids in elementary school, no?
It’ll be interesting to see what Highland Park ISD turns up. The district has some pretty strict standards for what constitutes residency, so if the McGoughs did let a condo sit dormant for (reportedly) four years or so just to get their kids into the district, they won’t be taking too kindly to it. But now that the McGoughs have put their children in private school, what exactly happens after that?
My biggest takeaway, however, is this: You may be house-hunting right now as a single person, or with your intended or new spouse, and children may be just a faraway glimmer in your eye. But that doesn’t exempt you from doing your homework on schools, especially if selling before your future kids hit kindergarten isn’t in your plans. Knock on a few doors, visit and ask around about the schools that come with your dream house. The shine on that ranch you’re totally in love with might just be dimmed a bit with a little homework about the schools that service it, and you may opt to move a few miles in another direction in your hunt, or find an unexpected up and coming neighborhood with wonderful neighborhood schools.
Because for real, even if the McGough’s spent a lot of time in that condo, doesn’t all this sound exhausting?