Outrage around homeless mom, Tanya McDowell, charged for sending son to better school

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Normal Outrage around homeless mom, Tanya McDowell, charged for sending son to better school

Post by Wrapitup on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:29 am

Mon Apr 25, 5:25 pm ET

By Liz Goodwin

Education activists are rallying around a homeless woman who may face jail time for enrolling her son in kindergarten under a friend's address. Supporters say the woman's story is yet another dismaying example of inequality in the U.S. education system.

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Tanya McDowell, a homeless single mother from Bridgeport, is charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for signing up her 5-year-old son to attend nearby Norwalk schools under the address of a friend. (Her son went to the school for four months. Her friend has been evicted from public housing for letting McDowell use her address.) McDowell may face up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted.

Gwen Samuel, a Connecticut education activist, is organizing a press conference to try to get the charges dropped and raise awareness about parents who are criminally prosecuted, rather than dealt with individually by the school district, for using false addresses.

She says she expects a few hundred people to show up at Norwalk superior court at 9 a.m. Wednesday, including Kelley Williams-Bolar (pictured), the Akron, Ohio-based mom who made national news in January, when she was jailed for using her father's address to send her kids to a better-performing school. Bolar's story ignited a debate about inequalities in the public education system, where poorer parents must send their kids to poorer schools because much of the funding is on the local level.
"This will continue to happen--this will set a precedent and districts will be like, 'OK I found a new way to get my money back, let's go after them,'" Samuel tells The Lookout.

Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse university professor and activist, tells The Lookout that Williams-Bolar heard about McDowell's case and wanted to support her. "Kelley called me and said, 'I can't believe they're doing this to her, how can I help?'" She's now on her way to Connecticut, and her trip is paid for by Samuel's newly founded non-profit Connecticut Parents Union.

"First it happens to Kelley, then it happens to Tanya--they both happen to be poor black mothers trying to find a way to provide a better life for their children," Watkins said.

Samuel says McDowell "absolutely" sent her son to the Norwalk kindergarten because she knew it was better than the schools in nearby Bridgeport. "If you could see ... where he is now compared to Brookside, you'd see why I chose Norwalk," McDowell told the Daily Norwalk of her son's new school, Thomas Hooker Elementary School in Bridgeport.

"There has to be a penalty for stealing our services," school board president Jack Chiaramonte countered in The Daily Norwalk.

McDowell, who used to work in food services, told the Stamford Advocate she occasionally stayed in a Norwalk homeless shelter--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.

Parents are rarely criminally prosecuted for using false addresses.

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This is just plain crazy!! All this woman wanted was for her son to not have the same homeless life she has had. So, she used a friends address and enrolled him in a decent kindergarten. And she may serve jail time WTF?? Yet, there are murder's and rapists roaming the streets. angry

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Normal Re: Outrage around homeless mom, Tanya McDowell, charged for sending son to better school

Post by raine1953 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:58 am

I know what she did is against the rules and illegal from what I'm reading but come on. Instead of history repeating itself she wants her child to get a good education. I've done the same thing years ago with my kids, we lived in an area that was low income and the middle school my daughter would have to go to was gang infested, no way was I sending her there! I have no regrets about using another address.
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Normal Re: Outrage around homeless mom, Tanya McDowell, charged for sending son to better school

Post by NiteSpinR on Thu May 23, 2013 2:25 am

March 28, 2012

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Tanya McDowell makes a statement during her sentencing in Superior Court, in Bridgeport, Conn. March 27th, 2012. McDowell was sentenced to five years in prison and another five years of probation after pleading guilty to drug and larceny charges. McDowell received national sympathy last year after Norwalk police arrested her for sending her son to a Norwalk school while they alleged that she was really living in Bridgeport. While out on bond for that arrest, she was picked up for selling drugs to undercover officers.

Even as she faced sentencing Tuesday in Bridgeport for twice selling drugs to an undercover police officer, Tanya McDowell vowed she would continue to fight for a better education for her young son.

"Who would have thought that wanting a good education for my son would put me in this predicament?" McDowell said, as she stood handcuffed before Superior Court Judge Frank Iannotti. "I have no regrets seeking a better education for him, I do regret my participation in this drug case."

Last month, the 34-year-old woman pleaded guilty in a Norwalk court to charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for illegally enrolling her 6-year-old son in Norwalk public school despite living in Bridgeport.

That case drew protests by residents and civil rights groups, who claimed McDowell was being persecuted for her attempt to get a better education for her son.

Iannotti retorted Tuesday that the Norwalk case had nothing to do with why McDowell was before him.

"This case is about the convictions for the sale of narcotics to an undercover police officer," the judge said. "I think you understand that because that is really the essence of what has gotten you into the predicament you find yourself today."

On the two counts of sale of narcotics, the judge then sentenced her to 12 years, suspended after she serves five years and followed by five years probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with a 5-year sentence she received in the Norwalk case.

"When you are released, go back to doing an honest living and become a role model for your son," the judge said.

Tuesday's hearing ended a highly charged case that put a spotlight on Bridgeport's beleaguered school system and cries for changes to state legislation that makes it illegal for parents to send their children to schools in towns they are not residents.

But support for McDowell dropped off after she was arrested by Bridgeport police in June and charged with selling marijuana and crack cocaine on two occasions to an undercover police officer outside her Dover Street home. Police said McDowell even interrupted her 6-year-old son's birthday party to sell the drugs.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael DeJoseph had made strong efforts to separate the Norwalk case from the drug cases he was prosecuting McDowell for.

In the end, both he and McDowell's lawyer, Darnell Crosland, said they were happy with the resolution of the cases.

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Normal Re: Outrage around homeless mom, Tanya McDowell, charged for sending son to better school

Post by Wrapitup on Thu May 23, 2013 12:18 pm

thanks for this update!!

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