When it was time for 34-year old Tonya McDowell to enroll her son in elementary school she was homeless. The Connecticut woman was primarily living in a van, spending some nights in a woman’s shelter in Norwalk and other couch surfing at a friend’s in Bridgeport. As she had no fixed address, she decided to get her son in the elementary school with the better program in Norwalk. Problem was her last known, fixed address was in Bridgeport and authorities say she should have enrolled him there.
Using a babysitter’s address, she got her son into the Norwalk school, committing fraud as she signed those papers. However, one might argue the address of a van parked on the side of the road really isn’t going to cut it.
McDowell was charged and according to police is guilty of “stealing” $15,686 worth of ‘free’ educational services from Norwalk. All because she wanted her son in a better school.
Pleading under the Alford Doctrine, McDowell essentially didn’t admit her guilt but admitted the crown has enough evidence to convict her, leading to her sentence – 12 years, 5 in jail, the rest suspended.
However Darnell Crosland, her lawyer, plans on fighting this case on the grounds she is truly not guilty.
“You shouldn’t be arrested for stealing a free education. It’s just wrong,” he said.
Penalized for being homeless and trying to get your son out of the situation you are in. Imagine that… Source.