A homeless woman from Bridgeport has been arrested for enrolling her 6-year-old son at a Norwalk elementary school.
Tonya McDowell, 33, is accused of stealing $15,000 — the cost of her son’s public education — from the Norwalk School District, according to the Stamford Advocate. She was arrested Thursday.
McDowell, whose last known address was Priscilla Street in Bridgeport, is facing first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny charges, the paper reported.
Police began an investigation in January, after the Norwalk Housing Authority filed a complaint that McDowell had registered her son at Brookside Elementary School in Norwalk, even though she had been living in an apartment in Bridgeport.
McDowell allegedly admitted to police she was allowed to sleep in the apartment on Priscilla Street in Bridgeport by the tenant, but had to leave during the day, according to the Advocate. She also told police she sometimes stayed at an emergency shelter in Norwalk.
Police say McDowell used the Norwalk address of the boy’s babysitter to register him at the school.
“Usually when they find a kid out of district, they send him back. I have never heard of people being arrested for it,” Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte told the Advocate.
The apparent crackdown may have something to do with the city’s tightening budget.
“This now sends a message to other parents that may have been living in other towns and registering their kids with phony addresses,” Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia said.
Heh. It’s a fair reminder that NO level of education in this country is free. I shook my head for a moment because if the people who most need it in society can’t even get a primary school education, what does that say of us?