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Homeless woman prosecuted for enrolling son in Conn. school

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democracy1st Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 10:16 AM
Original message
Homeless woman prosecuted for enrolling son in Conn. school
Connecticut authorities have filed theft charges against Tanya McDowell, a homeless woman, alleging that she used a false address to enroll her son in a higher-income school district, The Stamford Advocate reports. If she's convicted, McDowell may end up in jail for as many as 20 years and pay a $15,000 fine for the crime.

McDowell is a homeless single mother from Bridgeport who used to work in food services, is now at the center of one of the very few false address cases in the Norwalk, CT, school district that is being handled in criminal court--rather than between the parent and school. Authorities are accusing McDowell of enrolling her 5-year-old son in nearby Norwalk schools by using the address of a friend. (Her friend has also been evicted from public housing for letting McDowell use her address.)


McDowell says she stayed in a Norwalk homeless shelter sometimes--but she didn't register there, which would have made her son eligible to attend the school.

"I had no idea whatsoever that if you enroll your child in another school district, it becomes a crime," the 33-year-old told the paper.

An education advocacy group, Connecticut Parents Union, is holding a fundraiser to help McDowell pay the possible fine.

The case is attracting some national attention in the education world, as it's similar to the headline-making story of Ohio mom Kelley Williams-Bolar, who spent days in jail after using her father's address to send her kids to a better-performing school. Her story ignited a debate about inequalities in the public school system.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110422/us_yb...
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kdmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
1. I am speechless...
I keep trying to write a response... but... theft for enrolling your kid in a school that wasn't a slum?

How many middle/upper class parents do the same thing... send their kids to better schools... but they are not prosecuted for it. The kid is just thrown out of the school when they get caught. When I was in high school, there was a whole troop of kids that came from the neighborhood beside ours (we were in different school districts, but my neighborhood was zoned for the newer, more advanced school and theirs was zoned for the 25 year old school that was falling down around their ears).

This is just another example of how we prosecute the poor for things that the more well off get away with all the time.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. very few middle and upper class families do this - partially because they would rarely need to
as they would already live in communities with good schools. When it happens, it is a big enough tory to make the local papers. more than a decade ago, there were 5 or 6 cases of kids from poorer town attending my town's schools. Some were the kids of our high school football coach, who thought hiss job made it legal. Payment for tuition was demanded and i think paid for past and current enrollment.

The town had a fiduciary responsibility to get payment for non residents attending.

This case is more confusing, as this family was homeless. Here, it seems as if they were registered with the Norwalk homeless shelter, they would have been ok. given that, they really should have worked with the mother to get the address fixed. It sounds like it was less fraud than maybe not wanting her child's address being listed as the homeless shelter. (Assuming that was where they actually lived, the kid should have gone to that school.)
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Hepburn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 10:26 AM
Response to Original message
2. Unbelievable...
...a parent prosecuted for enrolling a child in a different school and another person evicted because of this????

:wow:
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closeupready Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
3. Sad reflection on Connecticut, IMO.
In a lot of ways.
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Mz Pip Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
4. This is nuts
How about a bit of prosecutorial discretion here? This is a "crime" worthy of 20 years in prison? Shit, murderers get off for less.

We have a similar situation here. People lie about where they live to get into our school district. The school district accepts kids from out of district but people don't want to be bothered with the application process. It started to lead to overcrowding, so the district offered amnesty to people who came forward and did the application process. People who didn't got kicked out. No one went to jail.
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fortyfeetunder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:39 AM
Response to Original message
5. Wrong on so many levels
What happens to the child while the mother is in jail?

This is by far NOT a criminal case.

I can't believe Connecticut has other crime situations demanding further attention. Like drunk driving, theft, murder, any other atrocities?

My parting comment -- throwing out the race card...I see in the case of this woman and the other woman in Ohio were both African-American -- and law wanted to make examples out of them. No surprise to me.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. I would imagine this is all costing more than educating the child
By the time you add up the costs of arresting and prosecuting this woman and the costs of caring for her child while she is in jail, there is a high price tag attached to this nonsense.
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elias7 Donating Member (913 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:44 AM
Response to Original message
6. What an asshole D.A.
Should have said that charges would be dropped if she registered at the Norwalk shelter.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. An article posted earlier this week said the school district insisted on this prosecution
I guess they are trying to set an example or something. Assholes.
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Blecht Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:49 AM
Response to Original message
7. Rule of law!
For the defenseless, that is.
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MODem75 Donating Member (120 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:00 AM
Response to Original message
11. Rather sad times we live in.
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