I would meet the principals or superintendent of the schools and ask for their data, certifications, accreditations, etc. Where do their graduates go to college? Then I'd interview the police chief, fire chief, etc. I'd also look at the register of sex offender book in the police station to see who and where they are for that area.
Please visit http://www.zipskinny.com and you will learn all you wanan know and more about your zip code.
The other agents make good rec's. Drive through the neighborhood and eat lunch or dinner in the area to get a sense of the community and amenities.
As far as schools go here are a couple of great sites to get an idea of the school system:
As far as neighborhoods go, spend some time in the neighborhoods and see if it is an area you are comfortable with.