I know as a mom, I should feel outrage for the woman convicted of fraudulently sending her kids to a safer school. I know I should be up-in-arms screaming about how unfair it is that she just did what she thought was best for her children. I read the story several times trying to work up that kind of anger for a system that requires her to break the law so that her children receive a better education. I just couldn’t do it.
Is it wrong that her children attend a lesser-quality school? Of course it is. I understand the desire to send your children to the best schools possible. I also understand the arguments for improving all schools so all students attend high-quality schools. However, neither of these arguments are compelling enough for me to condemn the school district.
As a taxpayer, I applaud what the school district did. It is their responsibility to spend the residents’ tax money appropriately. Part of that responsibility is to make sure only those legally able to attend the schools receive school services. It is also their responsibility to make sure no students are stealing services.
It’s harsh, but students who attend classes and receive services from a district where they do not legally reside are stealing. It’s no different that walking into a store and stealing merchandise. For some reason we think it’s okay because it involves children and schools. It’s not okay.
Our high school district recently pushed for a parent’s prosecution after that parent fraudulently enrolled his children in the district. The district tried to work out a civil settlement, but the parent refused to cooperate. Criminal charges were then filed.
I read last year that it costs our high school district somewhere between $350,000 and $450,000 per year to educate students who live out of district. At a time when budgets are being slashed and programs eliminated, that money could be used to educate the students in the district. As a parent, I want to know that my elementary and high school districts are vigilant about how my tax dollars are spent. I want to know that they are doing their best to make sure that our children are getting the best education available for our tax dollars.
There are many ways her children could have legally attended that school, which was in the district where her father lives. There are many ways she could have resolved the situation without facing criminal charges. The school district said it resolves 15 – 20 cases per year without resorting to criminal prosecution. I’m going to say that there were other circumstances at play that forced the school to pursue criminal charges.
Once she was caught, why did the mother risk felony charge? Why not try to come to an agreement and find a way for her children to attend the school legally? Once convicted of a felony charge, you are barred from numerous opportunities from jobs to voting. It was overkill to pursue a felony charge, but I’d bet that wasn’t their first choice.
I want to feel outrage that she’s now a convicted felon, but I can’t. I can only trust that my school district will be as vigilant protecting my tax dollars as the Copley Township school district.