A homeless woman has been arrested for first-degree larceny for “stealing” $15,686 for her son’s education, reports the Stamford Advocate. Tonya McDowell, 33, used the Norwalk, Connecticut address of her after-school babysitter to enroll her six-year-old son in a nearby school. McDowell alternates between a friend’s apartment in Bridgeport and a homeless shelter in Norwalk, she told police.
The Norwalk Housing Authority discovered the ruse in January, evicted the babysitter and turned McDowell into the school district, which is cracking down on out-of-district students. This is the first time Norwalk has charged a parent with a crime for using a false address.
While (Mayor Richard) Moccia said it was sad the case involves a woman who appears to be homeless, he pointed out that if she had been living at the Norwalk shelter and registered her child there she would not be facing charges now.
I realize that McDowell doesn’t pay Norwalk taxes, but she’s not paying Bridgeport taxes either. (I assume she has a job, since she needs child care, so she may pay some state taxes.) One woman has been evicted, another could go to jail and all because a little boy went to school in a district where he sometimes lives.
Of course, this recalls the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio woman who spent several days in jail for using her father’s address to get her kids into a better and safer school.
Norwalk schools are better, notes RiShawn Biddle on Dropout Nation, who has stats on “promoting power” for black students in the two districts. The Connecticut Parents Union is lobbying to let McDowell’s son finish out the school year and is raising money to pay the $15,686 in tuition for out-of-district students, Biddle writes. A pro-McDowell petition is here.