First-degree larceny and conspiracy seem like odd charges for sending your child to school, but that’s what Connecticut mother Tanya McDowell has pleaded guilty to after she “fraudulently” enrolled her son in the wrong school district. The prosecution says she stole money from taxpayers by putting her child in the wrong school and now she’s been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
But what’s the appropriate school district for your child when you have no home? Tanya and her son were homeless at the time that she enrolled him in Kindergarten in the Norwalk school district last year, using her babysitter’s address, rather than the district of Bridgeport where her last home was. Unmoved by her circumstances, police say Tanya stole up to $15,686 in educational services from the city of Norwalk, which is the documented average cost for educating a child in 2010. In addition to her jail sentence she’s been ordered to pay back up to $6,200 in restitution.
Tanya’s 12-year sentence also includes four counts of drug possession and sale charges, which she pleaded guilty to as well, and her sentence is expected to be suspended after she serves five of the 12 years. Despite support from the NAACP, the defense was unable to get the charges dismissed, now Tanya is stuck serving time for trying to educate her son and explain to him why she’s going away. She said he’s read the newspapers that say she stole something and he doesn’t understand what’s happening.
“He is curious because he thinks I stole Brookside [the school he attended] away from him,” she said, “that I took it away from him,”
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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