Homeless Woman Arrested for Sending Son to School


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

back to school, elementary school


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melan... melanniek

Land of the free...well not free exactly.  Way to encourage the cycle.  I have always thought education should be available to EVERYONE.  Not just K-12 either.  So many arguments about the state of our country come to mind.  But I digress.  I vote NO, she should not be punished.

butte... butterflymkm

How sad. Aparently all the adults forgot the most important element here, the child.

Beths... Bethsunshine

Good grief, what happened to public education being available to everyone?

Anast... Anastazia975

This is disgusting. A travesty. That poor kiddo is now probably in the system, scared witless. That mayor and school system, could have found a way to help her. Instead they choose to kick her and her son while they are already down. And then the baby sitter to boot. Those poor people.

nonmember avatar Anon

I'm sure there is some way to remedy the situation without declaring that the USA hates homeless kids. It sounds like someone lied and got caught. They should have contacted someone in government (social services, school district) and found out what the procedure was to do it right. Certainly if the child is an American citizen he's entitled to a free public education. As for the babysitter, I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to the story.

nonmember avatar Anon

Your link doesn't work, so no way to verify or understand the facts.

Sarah Sprenger

Ridiculous!!! She should not be in jail! This is sad, she was just doing the best thing for her child. What the heck is the world coming to!!!

gnoamy gnoamy

i'm sorry, that's just crazy... that boy needs an education, and his mom was just trying her best to get him in there.

Amey Lee Markert

HA Ill bet ya that if a truant officer noticed this child NOT in school they would've arrested her anyway, the system really sucks and needs alot of help!!!

lianye lianye

So..she gets in trouble for this.  But if she didn't do it, she'd be breaking the law too, since you're required by law to send your kids to school (or provide proof of homeschooling).  So sad.

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