Rally for Homeless Woman Arrested in School Enrollment Scam

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) _ A Connecticut judge on Tuesday declined to dismiss felony charges against a homeless woman accused of stealing public services by fraudulently enrolling her son in the Norwalk school district.

Tanya McDowell, 33, appeared in Norwalk Superior Court on Tuesday. She’s charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy for allegedly enrolling her 5-year-old son in kindergarten in Norwalk last fall using her baby sitter’s address when authorities believe she was living in Bridgeport. Her case was continued to July 12.
Despite Norwalk officials finding 26 other children illegally enrolled in city schools this year, McDowell is the only one facing criminal charges. The boy now lives with relatives in Bridgeport, where he attends kindergarten.

Also Tuesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to speak at an NAACP education rally outside Brookside Elementary School in Norwalk, the same school that McDowell’s son attended.

A spokeswoman for Sharpton’s National Action Network said Sharpton’s appearance isn’t related to McDowell’s case but is a rally to encourage young people to pursue an education and municipalities to give all students access to quality education.

Spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger said Sharpton isn’t addressing McDowell’s case yet because neither he nor the network have fully looked into the matter.

Judge Bruce Hudock declined a request by McDowell’s lawyer to dismiss the charges, saying such a motion should come at trial. Her attorney, Darnell Crosland, says authorities lacked probable cause to arrest McDowell and there isn’t enough evidence for the prosecution to continue.

Crosland told reporters after the court hearing that he believed the larceny case could be dismissed.

McDowell’s arrest in April and similar cases in other states have raised questions about uneven enforcement of residency rules by budget-conscious local officials trying to crack down on out-of-towners in their classrooms.

Sharpton was to be the keynote speaker at the NAACP rally Tuesday evening. The rally, which also celebrated the 57th anniversary of the landmark Brown versus Board of Education school desegregation case, was sponsored by the Norwalk and Connecticut chapters of the NAACP.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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