Stop Prosecution of Homeless Woman Tanya McDowell for Sending Son to 'Wrong' School in Norwalk, CT
  • Petitioned David Cohen

This petition was delivered to:

State's Attorney, Norwalk
David Cohen
Mayor of the City of Norwalk, CT
Mayor Richard A. Moccia
Superintendent of Schools, Norwalk, CT
Dr. Susan Marks
Chairman of the Board of Education, Norwalk, CT
Jack Chiaramonte
Chief State's Attorney
Kevin T. Kane
Connecticut Governor

Stop Prosecution of Homeless Woman Tanya McDowell for Sending Son to 'Wrong' School in Norwalk, CT

    1. Anthony Crisci
    2. Petition by

      Anthony Crisci

      norwalk, CT

A homeless mother in Connecticut has been charged with theft of "education expenses" totaling nearly $16,000 after it was discovered that she registered her son for school using the babysitter's address.

The Stamford Advocate reports:

A homeless woman from Bridgeport who enrolled her 6-year-old son at a Norwalk elementary school has become the first in the city to be charged with stealing more than $15,000 for the cost of her child's education.

Tanya McDowell, 33, whose last known address was 66 Priscilla St., Bridgeport, was charged Thursday with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 from Norwalk schools. She was released after posting a $25,000 bond.

McDowell's babysitter, Ana Rebecca Marques, was also evicted from her Roodner Court public housing apartment for providing documents to enroll the child at Brookside Elementary School.

According to the story, McDowell was primarily sleeping at a home in a different city, although she could not be there during the days, and also spent time at a local shelter.  The boy went to the sitter's house daily after school.

An argument could be made that as they had no permanent home, there is no reason why the babysitter's house isn't a place of residence, as it was a place he went to daily and had more permanence than their other living situations appeared to.  However, the school disagreed and decided after an investigation to press charges against the mother, claiming theft.

The Chair of the board of education admits the move is unusual -- normally a child found attending school out of district is just sent away.  Others are speculating why this case became the case that the district appears to be interested in using to "set an example" in order to discourage other parents from attempting to send their children to school with false addresses, especially since the mother obviously has no ability to pay for the "theft."   A lawyer involved in a similar case wonders why they wouldn't choose to go after someone where they may have a chance to get reimbursement back for the educational costs while making their point.

Could it be that the district is less concerned about sending a general example and more concerned about sending one geared to a specific audience?  Like, for example, the low-income and homeless in the area?

(via: www.care2.com)

Mayor Richard Moccia said of the case,

"This now sends a message to other parents that may have been living in other towns and registering their kids with phony addresses."

(via: www.huffingtonpost.com)

 

(4/28/2011) Update: In addition to dropping the criminal charges against McDowell, we're calling for the resignation of Norwalk Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Suzanne Vieux. We've added Stamford State's Attorney David I. Cohen to the target list, who appointed Vieux to her position in 2009. 

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 25,000 signatures
    2. A Rally for Education in Bridgeport

      Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Tanya McDowell chose to enroll her son in Norwalk instead of Bridgeport, where schools are anticipating deep cuts and more lay-offs. Bridgeport is considering a legal challenge, like Sheff v. O'Neill, to bring more funding to their school system.

    3. Addressing Educational Inequity in Connecticut

      Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      The case of Tanya McDowell has raised the issue of equal access to a quality education for Connecticut students & parents. Education could be a big issue in next year's legislative session.

    4. Gwen Samuels on "Education Theft"

      Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Connecticut is one of the richest states in the nation but is also home to some of the poorest cities. The state also has one the widest achievement gaps. Read more from Gwen Samuels on school choice and "education theft."

    5. "What's next...debtors prison?"

      Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      One petition signer writes, "I am stunned that this bizarre, ridiculous case is still ongoing..So what's next from the great state of Connecticut? Are you proposing that Ms. McDowell be placed in a Debtors Prison?"

    6. McDowell's Case Highlights Deeper Issues of Education Inequality

      Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      The cases of Tanya McDowell and Kelley Williams-Bolar is raising some important questions about equal access to a quality education. The Gothamist looks at local parents who enroll children in out-of-district schools.

    7. Norwalk Board of Education Chair Acknowledges Arrests Unrelated

      Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      The Norwalk Board of Education Chairman acknowledged recently that Tanya McDowell's recent drug charges have "nothing to do with" the larceny charges she faces for sending her son to the 'wrong' public school.

    8. Why the Story of Tanya McDowell Matters

      Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      From Campus Progress: "There are certain moments when a social injustice is so stark, its public outcry so vociferous...that movement activists stumble upon a watershed opportunity to strike at the foundations of a dysfunctional system."

    9. Does Tanya McDowell's Arrest Make Her Guilty on All Charges?

      Carol Scott
      Petition Organizer

      Commenters are having a field day. Tanya McDowell was recently arrested on charges of selling marijuana and crack cocaine to an undercover officer. Take a look at people's reactions on the internet:
      "Why steal someone else's education to get your kid...

    10. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      "We hope for the best for [Tanya]. We're hoping that everything works out with her son and we still support him," said Gwen Samuel, founder of the Connecticut Parents Union. Read more:

    11. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      "I don't feel that anybody should be prosecuted for trying to get their kids an education," said Shirley Mosby to the Hour newspaper." Read more:

    12. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      The Hartford Courant writes in an editorial, "What's really needed is a speedy and penalty-free end to McDowell's trial," adding that more action is needed by the state government "to address the issue of school inequality." We couldn't agree more.

    13. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Rev. Sharpton came to Norwalk this week for a rally in support of Tanya McDowell. "My concern is not the past of the mother, but the future of the child," he said, adding that a young child shouldn't be a "pawn of politics."

    14. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      McDowell's attorney has asked supporters to call Connecticut Chief State Attorney Kevin Kane and ask that larceny charges against Tanya McDowell be dropped. You can call the office at 860-258-5850.

    15. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      McDowell's attorney speaks to the media about his client's case. It looks promising.

    16. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      In today's court appearance, Tanya McDowell's attorney Darnell Crosland formally requested the case be dismissed. McDowell's next court appearance is scheduled for July 12.

    17. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Tanya McDowell is scheduled to appear in court today, followed by a rally this evening at her son's former Norwalk elementary school. Have you shared this petition with friends and family? Let's keep the momentum going!

    18. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton will be attending a rally in Norwalk tomorrow in support of Tanya McDowell and equality in our education system.

    19. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      "I think it was too harsh...Everybody believes it was too harsh," said House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden. All eyes are on Connecticut lawmakers next week, as they pursue legislation to ensure equal treatment of all parents under the law.

    20. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Connecticut lawmakers are now looking to change the law, so that towns like Norwalk cannot criminally prosecute parents in these circumstances.

    21. Reached 20 signatures
    22. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Your voices are making an impact in Norwalk. Local leaders and McDowell's attorney discuss the importance of your petition signatures in Tanya McDowell's case.

    23. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Petition signer Beverly Lehman commented, "This is absolutely ridiculous, I feel that we, as a society, should be concerned with this child getting a quality education. Which is exactly what this mother was trying to do. I also feel that something needs to be done to ensure that parents do not have to lie to get their children a quality education."

    24. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Tanya McDowell isn't the only parent in Connecticut who's faced criminal charges for 'theft' of educational services.

    25. Jess Kutch
      Petition Organizer

      Connecticut lawyers discuss the serious implications of Tanya McDowell's case.

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Janette Buchanan JACKSONVILLE, FL
      • about 3 years ago

      At least she sent her child to school, someone was there to care for him afterwards. What would they have charged her with had she not sent him to school at all, being she had no perminant address?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • leslie barger OGDEN, UT
      • about 3 years ago

      I think a mother have right send her child any school want she has no home

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Margaret Cabral NORWALK, CT
      • about 3 years ago

      Had she not sent her child to school then she would face child neglect charges so the baby sitters address was her only choice being homeless . Can't use a old address because the mail would be returned so the babysitters address was the best she could do without not sending the child to school. This is a waste of tax payers money arresting this woman.

      Instead of this stupid case how about getting the homeless woman a apartment in one of the low income projects in Norwalk is what they should do..

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Sharde Edwards SANFORD, UNITED STATES
      • about 3 years ago

      It''s sad to see our tax dollars wasted on crap like this. And by the way does anyone have an issue with the fact that it costs more too educate a student in Norwalk than in Bridgeport? That is what needs to be addressed.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Hope Hylton NEW YORK, NY
      • about 3 years ago
      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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