Social Question

squirbel's avatar

Should this mother have been sent to prison for sending her children to a better, safer school?

Asked by squirbel (3996 points ) January 27th, 2011 from iPhone

This woman was the first person in Ohio’s history to be punished for this, and yet it is a common occurrence. The law has existed nearly 6 years. Is this right for her to be punished?

http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/2011/01/26/ohio-copley-fairlawn-discriminates/

http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/mom-sentenced-jail-seeking-better-education

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36 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

Technically, yes, if it’s against the law. But it’s just another sign that making money is more important than anything else.

It reminds me of when my wife and I moved our family during the school year. Only one kid had to change schools. At the end of the year the school was trying to tell us that he should be left back for the next year because he had learning problems. This came from the principal, his counselor, and a couple of his teachers. He passed the grade with room to spare. The next year he did exceptionally well. Turns out they felt slighted that they had to accept him in their school for a couple of months without getting the tax dollars.

iamthemob's avatar

Amazingly, this is one of these situations where the justice system is above reproach, and the legislature needs to be locked in a small room with large, angry people with weapons. This law was meant to prevent exactly this type of behavior.

It’s unfortunate that this happened, and we can only hope it will be a lesson.

I’m thinking that someone over there needs to, as soon as possible, start an online fundraising campaign for this family. Because I’m thinking one word: scholarships.

squirbel's avatar

But is five years in prison fair?

iamthemob's avatar

It was five years suspended, except for 10 days of it.

Of course, the enormous problem with that is that now she has a felony conviction on her record.

incendiary_dan's avatar

One big thing we need to ask, is whether or not the reaction would be the same if she weren’t a black woman sending her school to a predominantly white school. I’m inclined to agree with the author of this article.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Personally, I think it’s a disgrace, and it makes me very angry. I would be highly interested in hearing arguments in favor of putting her in jail, if anything, just so I can delude my self a little and tell me self that it’s not so bad.

Where I live, the schools are not that great, but at least you have the option to choose what one you want to go to.

To me, this is another example of a government deciding to make an example out of someone. They must have known that it was wrong to jail her, but did so anyway to prevent others from doing the same, in other words, they jailed her for their convenience. To me, whenever the government makes an example out of someone, they are also discriminating against that person.

While it pains me to say this, and it makes me ashamed that I even think this way in 2011, I must say, I think her race had a hand in this too.

It’s not just that she has been put in jail for 10 days, thats not even a big deal. The main crime that has happened here, is that they have totally fucked up her life over it. It was not enough to jail her for 10 days, they also had to ruin her.

The way I see it, her actions worried the government, she made them fear that others may do the same, and that made them worried that maybe that would mean changing the education system, and that this would cost money, and as they where scared for their pockets, they gave her 10 days in jail, fucked her live over to make an example of her, and then gave her this 5 year suspended bullshit, to try and intimidate her out of fighting this when she gets out.

Everyone who had a hand in this should be fired, and never allowed to work in government related afairs ever again.

Cruiser's avatar

As incredulous as this seems…what this lady did is a real problem for all school districts in our country. Everybody wants their kids to go to the best schools they can have access to and why people move around so their kids can go to a better school. I did this 7 years ago to get my oldest out of a crappy school system and am having to move again one mile so my kid can have go to the school in the part of our district that has the facility and faculty that can provide the support my sons special needs require. ONE MILE in order to have that physical address so he can go there. I have been in this ladies shoes…I have faced and felt her frustration at a system set in place to discourage and even prevent people from faking their addresses so their kids can attend a particular school.

Even a white boy like me couldn’t convince our school district to make an exception and live up to their court ordered Education Program for my son. They said No Problem Mr. Cruiser as long as you can provide us with proof of a physical address in our district.

The truth is, if they didn’t do this I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue of all the families that would attempt to sneak their kids into the better schools. I feel for this lady but she cheated the system, she lied and got caught. The sentence in my humble opinion is a bit harsh….but a couple news clippings I am pretty sure is only a fraction of all the details that earned this lady more than a slap on the wrist.

jca's avatar

I agree with Cruiser. Some people pay boo-koo bucks to live in an expensive area, where the schools are good. If this type of thing were not discouraged, more people would do as this woman does. As it is, it is already a problem in good school districts. Then the people paying boo-koo bucks and high taxes would be getting no better or worse than the people living elsewhere and breaking the law.

A possible solution would be vouchers, where the school system gives a voucher for the amount they spend per pupil which would enable the child to go to another district and pay the non-resident fee using the voucher.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Completely overblown, too harsh of a sentence. People do this all the time. If she were white, she’d get a slap on the wrist. I will live and die by that last statement of mine, btw.

iamthemob's avatar

@Cruiser – “The truth is, if they didn’t do this I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue of all the families that would attempt to sneak their kids into the better schools.”

You’re right. That’s why I get why they prosecuted her, because she’s what they were afraid of.

But the horrific part of that sentence is “better.” We are dealing with mandatory childhood education. There should be no such thing, at least at the state level, and I think nationally, as a “better” school because it has more money.

This woman gamed the system because it was safer for her kids, and to get them on a level playing field so that when they grew up, they might not have to game the system too.

It’s the one thing that really chaps me when people (and this is me just ranting now, @Cruiser) talk about “personal accountability” and the “liberty of the individual” and then they think that kids should get the type of education their parents can afford – regardless of whether it’s inferior. That’s not democracy – that’s an aristocracy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob @Cruiser
It’s never about just personal responsibility (which is something we should instill in our children) but as MLK said (when talking about poverty and unemployment) that when society places “the responsibility on its system, not the individual, and guarantees secure employment or guaranteed income,dignity will come within the reach of all [...] We do much too little to assure decent, secure employment. And then we castigate the unemployed and underemployed for being misfits and ne’er do wells. We still assume that unemployment usually results from personal defects; our solutions therefore largely tend to be personal and individual. [...] It’s all right to say to a man that he ought to lift himself by his bootstraps but it’s a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself.” (emphasis mine).

Cruiser's avatar

@iamthemob Before your undies catch fire dude get all the facts! The facts are is she is no more special than the 100’s of thousands of parents who would almost break the law to get their kids in school. Problem here as I see it she did break the law and got caught! I feel bad about the sentence but facts remain she lied, she committed fraud and got caught so shame on her! Again, before I go feeling sorry for anybody who get punished by our court system, I like to get all the facts and as I see it they ain’t here to review and I suspect there is more to her story that merited such a punishment being handed down. IMO there is nothing democratic in allowing nor forgiving without repercussions people who break the laws especially the same laws I and other have to honor and abide by!

I KNOW I have fought this system and fought it hard for 5 years now to make sure my son gets the education I know he needs and can get. But I didn’t lie and I didn’t cheat and was able to find a way to make it happen.

I hope like hell Obama makes good on his speech the other night about fixing this education system he now lords over.

YARNLADY's avatar

My sister did it with her kids. She literally lived on the wrong side of the tracks and the closest school drew the line at the tracks. Their thinking was it was too dangerous for the children to cross. She used an address from the right side of the tracks.

Here in my area, the school district has open enrollment and you can enroll your child in any school you want, if you beat out the crowd. There is a limit on the number of out of area openings. There’s always a long line outside the district office on enrollment day. Many parents try to get their kids in a school near their work, as opposed to their home.

The only time I feel this should be discouraged is when the enrollment is for fraud. One parent actually rented a room in the school district he wanted his son to play football, because it was a better team than his local school. The entire team was disqualified from the league because of it.

iamthemob's avatar

@Cruiser – Look at my first post. I’m saying she got what legally she was supposed to get. And I stated that, indeed, this was a time where the system functioned perfectly.

But that’s the problem. I’m talking about the set-up. No mother should have to break a law, that’s about tax allocations in districts, in order to keep her child safe. And even if that’s exaggerated, she was trying to get her kids the best public education she could. Public education – so she was paying her taxes, but the school near her was underfunded. And considering the cost of the prosecution, it’s a fiscally stupid policy.

Talking about how she lied, cheated, broke the law – yeah. But she did it because she wasn’t going to stand there while people across the street could give their kids a better education than her children were – when she’s the one that needs it most.

She broke the law – but let’s face it…she’s the kind of mother I would want.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I’ve known numerous people who lived in a different state and lied about their address to send their children to a performing arts school without having to pay the $4,000 annual out-of-district fee. I’ve also heard of people who have sat out of college for a year, and used a friend’s address in Indiana to establish “residency” so they could get in-state tuition for IU.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@BarnacleBill All the Russian parents around have divorced each other so that they can use their therefore much lower income to get into free UPK schools or get vouchers for private schools. They’ve also written off their vehicles and property into the names of their parents.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If any of you feel so inclined, here’s the petition.

Kayak8's avatar

I just don’t understand why the mother didn’t move in with her father and make the whole thing legal and be done with it.

I abhor people lying. Move to the district if you want to have your kids go to the schools there. There is no reason to lie. As a person who has no children and who pays taxes, it galls me that I am paying for any schools (no kids attending), but the fact is that I do have to pay taxes for the schools. So I don’t think it is right that someone who lives outside a district and does not pay taxes takes this kind of advantage.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Kayak8 How does she not pay taxes?

casheroo's avatar

I think this is sad that it even needed to happen. Why do children deserve to have such crappy school districts, but other school districts are amazing? Those children do not have an equal opportunity in life.
I do not agree with charges being pressed or even convicting her. She is now probably never going to move up in the world, she is a felon. They ruined this poor lady just to prove a point. Way to go, jerks.

squirbel's avatar

Why was the law even created?

Kayak8's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I am sure she might pay taxes. If so, her children should go to school in the district where she pays them. My objection is her sending them to a district where she does NOT pay taxes because she doesn’t live there.

Maybe folks like me who pay taxes in District A but have no kids could do a voucher to allow a kid from District B to come take the spot we are paying for and not using . . .

Cruiser's avatar

@iamthemob I am sorry if I mischaracterized your earlier comments by my replies…not my intention there. I am curious though about your statement of “fiscally stupid policy” where you imply those policies are so improperly designed so as to force a mother into breaking the law to get her child the education she feels her child is entitled to. I can only assume that these policies have been carefully constructed over the years to provide for as fair and balanced access to a publicly funded education as possible.

Let’s face it….there are the haves and have nots. Just the way it is. Again this system of policies for better or for worse is there to prevent willy nilly enrollment and provide for planned school capacity. If you read some of the links to the case here you will see that she was treated fairly and in step with the policies and proceedures in place that deal with out of district enrollment. When it was discovered that she lied and enrolled her child illegally, she was sent a bill for out of district enrollment fees, bills she repeatedly ignored. She further ignored the requests to address this issue within the parameters of the policies that again are in place.

Further she was afforded 3 pre-trial hearings at which time she was afforded options to settle this issue out of court that she refused. So @iamthemob, what should her school board and the legal system done differently here??

Just to save you the time in reading all those links, the judge was very empathetic to her case and said if this mom serves 6 months of her probation, she more than likely will expunge the felony charges. So in the end all the facts of the case if presented at the same time IMO, are a lot less sensational than the “news” stories linked above would lead you to believe.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Kayak8 Maybe it’s me but I don’t think about taxes having to do with where we live, do you? It’s not like my taxes go towards my district only – there are no district taxes, there are state and federal taxes so they extend over a much larger are that you discuss. You can’t have people pay taxes that are supposed to make it better for everyone and tell them ‘you’re stuck in this poor neighborhood with the shitty school and your taxes that you pay, well too bad – you’re stil stuck’ – that’s unfair and it should be everyone’s concern that parity isn’t provided for when people equally pay taxes.

iamthemob's avatar

@Cruiser

I totally understand what you’re saying – but you’re preaching to the converted. I never said that she was treated unfairly in the system as is. In fact, I think she was treated more than fairly.

My problem is not “boo hoo, poor her,” it’s the fact that the message is the law supports the unequal education of its children based on class and race. That’s not the purpose of it, but it’s the clear and predictable effect. And that she rejected that, for whatever reason, should be a lesson to us.

To be honest – from the child’s perspective, because they are dependent upon the income of the parent, which taxed by the state, the child has no way of determining whether he or she contributes to the overall revenue. And he or she cannot vote. And then, because of spending, he or she receives a different quality of education than another. For the child, it is taxation without representation, and a resulting discrimination.

Cruiser's avatar

@iamthemob I see your argument for the nobility of your intent….but we live in a free market democracy and this freedom is reflected in the inevitable disparities of the wealth distribution. To argue for equality for all based on a country that is a free market again with resultant disparity in wealth and or poverty there will always be neighborhoods that reflect this.

After all people who live in these better neighborhoods, the ones who own property are the ones bearing the burden for a good part of the cost of these schools. You get what you pay for here and unless you are advocating Socialism, there is not anything you or I can do about it. Also, I grew up in the city of Chicago and now live in the suburbs and I strongly feel that for the most part the curriculum’s are the same and you will find the good, bad and ugly both in the inner city and the posh neighborhoods. The solution to the problem you address will not be found in open enrollment or vouchers, I believe holding the principals and teachers accountable for and rewarding for excellence in achievement is where the solution lies. Unions and tenure IMO is where things start to get screwed up.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Cruiser Well, sometimes the disparities aren’t about the curriculum. In some inner city schools, there are no ceilings, there are not enough desks or bathrooms – in one school that I know about, kids have to stand on line for about a half hour to get into the only bathroom in the school.

iamthemob's avatar

@Cruiser – There is no problem with disparities of wealth distribution. The ability of a person to afford a better life because they have performed well is part of what I love. Even when the disparities are extreme it’s great in my opinion (I have no problem with megawealth objectively).

However, the perspective issue that’s at issue is that children are not a part of this discussion. Primary education should not, in any way, be subject to market forces. I’m not advocating any solution, but it is not the children, as I tried to say above, that “bear the burden” directly or in a way that they can change. A child born to poor children has done nothing to deserve less funding for education.

Now, I am not saying that people who are wealthy enough should not be restricted from seeking better education for their children. However, the districting of schools and funding based on any disparity in tax revenues, etc., is deplorable.

Regarding accountability – the huge problem is that these are people, not products. A standardized curriculum and focus on general skills becomes problematic when you apply it to kids. The metrics of performance are almost impossible to measure in many ways as they will be produce many false positives as well as false negatives (e.g., a great teacher who produces a lot of critical thinking may fail because her kids are, at present, lacking in rote knowledge, but go on to excel in later years, and terrible teachers may produce strict thinking kids who can’t advance because they don’t know how to be creative).

I don’t think it is as a fact impossible to measure – but I think that the measurement is more long term so we won’t know until much later the real value of the contribution.

Kayak8's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir When I do my city taxes, I have to indicate the school district where I live. Actually, I have to indicate the school district when I do my state taxes too.

Kayak8's avatar

It should be noted that this case took place in Ohio where the school funding formula has already come under a great deal of fire. This system has been ruled unconstitutional four times by the Ohio Supreme Court, which called for a “complete system overhaul.”

Kayak8's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Huh about which part?

Kayak8's avatar

In Ohio, I have to pay a variety of taxes. This includes property taxes that benefit the schools in my district. Specific to this question, the woman in question did not live in the district where she sent her kids. So even if she paid property taxes, they did not benefit the district where she chose to send her children. Further, I pay state taxes a portion of which also goes to benefit the district where I live.

It has been widely noted (around here anyway) that Ohio’s system of funding schools (property taxes being a good example) is unconstitutional. For example, if I can afford a big house in a nice neighborhood, my taxes will go toward the schools in my neighborhood and they will likely be better schools. Many people will move to a specific neighborhood because they have good schools but there is also an associated cost.

The opposite of this also happens: neighborhoods with a lot of people in transition or with a lot of renters typically don’t have the same quality schools. The property taxes (paid by the individual or by the landlord) may not be sufficient to offset other factors that make the school less desirable.

So this woman may have owned property and have paid taxes but she wanted her kids to go to a school where the local residents paid a lot more in taxes to ensure the schools would be good. She could have rented in the district of interest, she and her kids could have legally moved in with her father, she could have bought a house in the district or she could have paid out of district tuition. All of these choices would have allowed her kids to go to the school she desired. Instead, she committed fraud and, when sent bills for out of district tuition, she chose not to pay them.

iamthemob's avatar

@Kayak8 – You’re assuming the ability to pay more, fund a move, etc. That’s not a given. You also assume that the children could have moved in with the father – there may be laws against that as another form of the “fraud” they’re trying to prevent.

I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have been convicted. I’m saying that the child’s education shouldn’t suffer based on the income or location of the parent, especially if we want to claim things like people have the choice to succeed, and want to truly start living in a society of personal responsibility.

Kayak8's avatar

@iamthemob I don’t think we are in disagreement. My position is that I pay high taxes for a school district to which I send zero children. Shouldn’t I be able to give away the “slots” I have to allow a child from an under-performing district to be able to attend as I have no children who will benefit from my contributions?

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