Education activists are making their way to Norwalk to stand in solidarity with Tanya McDowell, the Bridgeport mother who was arrested for enrolling her 5-year-old son into a Norwalk school using a friend's address.
Gwen Samuel of the Connecticut Parents Union will hold a news conference outside Norwalk Superior Court on Wednesday at 9 a.m., just before McDowell is scheduled to appear in court facing charges of grand larceny. Samuel hopes to get the charges dropped and says that parents shouldn't be criminally prosecuted for sending their children to a better public school.
"There was a miscarriage of justice if you look at the federal law protecting homeless children," Samuel says of the McKinney-Vento Act that allows homeless children to continue to attend schools in their districts. McDowell has no fixed residence but says that she stays with a friend in Bridgeport at night but can't stay there during the day.
The Norwalk Public School refute McDowell's claim of homelessness. "According to her own testimony, Ms. McDowell and her son reside in Bridgeport, and we are aware of no evidence that she or her son is homeless," said a statement released late Monday.
"I'm afraid that arresting parents is a pattern that is emerging across the country," says Samuel. "We should be ensuring that we are protecting the most vulnerable children in our society, instead of saying, 'We are going to get you, mom.'"
Through McDowell's case, Samuel wants to raise the issue of education inequity in public schools. "It is time to ensure homeless children and ALL children have access to a great education," she writes in her statement. Samuel is calling on state lawmakers to protect children and prevent criminal prosecution of parents who send their children out of district.
Samuel says she expects more than 100 people to attend the press conference. Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar, who made national news earlier this year when she was arrested for sending her child to another school district, had been slated to attend but may not be able to attend, says Samuel. Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor who has been a vocal McDowell supporter, has been invited.
Will you attend the rally? Or do you support the arrest? Leave a comment below.
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