homelessA homeless woman in Connecticut has been arrested for one of the most unthinkable reasons imaginable -- she sent her son to school. Tonya McDowell, 33, was arrested last week and charged with first-degree larceny for stealing $15,686 -- the cost of the public school education for her 6-year-old son.

To make matters worse, the child's babysitter, who provided documentation that said the boy lived at her Norwalk address, was evicted from her public housing unit for her role in his education. McDowell and her son had been bouncing between an acquaintance's home in Bridgeport and a homeless shelter in Norwalk with the boy spending afternoons with the babysitter. The school he attended was in Norwalk School District, which had recently decided to crack down on infiltrators.

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia told the Stamford Advocate, "This now sends a message to other parents that may have been living in other towns and registering their kids with phony addresses."

Wow, what a harsh way to send it. And how exactly is putting this woman in jail going to help remedy the situation? It's not like she's going to be able to pay the money back, and what of her child? Will additional taxpayer dollars be necessary to care for him?

Sure there are rules, and school dollars need to be used carefully, but is there really a taxpayer alive who doesn't think this boy would be better off in school -- any school -- than out on the streets with his mother?

Of course we can't just let anyone show up at any school they like, or chaos would ensue, and yes, there are services and help available that may have worked for them. But there's got to be some bend in the bureaucracy when it comes to cases like this.

This mother was doing the best thing she possibly could do for her son, and now she faces criminal charges. That just seems criminal.

Do you think this woman should be prosecuted just for sending her son to school? 


Image via davco9200/Flickr