School residency arrests raise fairness questions

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A homeless single mother's arrest on charges she intentionally enrolled her son in the wrong school district by using her baby sitter's address is raising questions about uneven enforcement of residency rules as budget-conscious cities nationwide crack down on out-of-towners in their classrooms.

Tanya McDowell's arrest in Norwalk last month came a few months after Kelley Williams-Bolar of Akron, Ohio, was convicted of falsifying records for using her father's address to send her children to safer suburban schools.

Yet in Connecticut, Ohio and elsewhere throughout the U.S., officials acknowledge parents are routinely caught doing the same thing but rarely face criminal charges.

McDowell and Williams-Bolar are low-income black single mothers, a fact that disturbs civil rights activists who question whether they are being singled out unfairly.

McDowell returns to court Wednesday in Norwalk, where she is charged with felony larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 of educational services by enrolling her 5-year-old in kindergarten last fall under her baby sitter's Norwalk public housing unit address. The baby sitter was later evicted.

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