A Wrong Way to the Right Idea?


It is a generally accepted ideology that parents typically want better for their children than they had for themselves. We hope we can save them from making our mistakes. We hope we can teach them to learn when they make their own.

We try to provide for our kids. Healthy eating habits, good study skills, a decent education; we want all of these things and more for our kids. One Ohio mom had the same idea.

So she lied about her address to get her kids into a better school. According to the strictest of moral codes that is wrong. But would you lie to ensure that your kids got into a better school? Even her father was charged with a fourth degree felony in this case (although it was a mistrial). Would you help your adult children lie to the state if it meant better and greater opportunities for your grand kids?

Whether or not you believe what she did was right or wrong, this particular GeekMom feels the punishment was too harsh. (I don’t speak for the rest of the GeekMom staff, this is just me.) She was studying to be a teacher and was charged with a felony. That felony means she can never teach in the state of Ohio, or in my state, Oklahoma, for that matter. Many states do not allow felons to teach in the classroom and for good reason. I’ll keep my opinions on her actions to myself, but to charge her with a felony, under the full knowledge that it would strip her of the opportunity (potentially the only opportunity) to earn the right and means to actually put her kids in the better school was excessive. If punishment was necessary couldn’t it have been backed down to community service, a few nights in jail, and a misdemeanor with no chance to expunge? I mean, really. Was it necessary to ensure that the poor woman stays down, stays poor, stays doomed because she wanted to better her children’s lives?

I’ve been at the bottom of the barrel. If I’m being honest, I could stretch my leg and point my toe and probably still touch it. I’ve only risen above it because of the help and support of both my family and total strangers who reached out and helped pull me up. So I give you the opportunity to be this woman’s total stranger with outstretched hand…Change.org has posted a petition to have her pardoned of the felony charge.

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3 thoughts on “A Wrong Way to the Right Idea?

  1. I’m afraid I don’t agree on a number of points. I would not help my adult child lie to gain benefits for my grandchildren. Instead I would help him find a way to make the best of what he has, or move himself into a better position. That is good parenting and grandparenting.

    If being a teacher was an important step for this woman, she should have thought about the consequences of her actions. I do not believe that consequences should change just because a person is in a different income bracket. For those of us who are not among the 1% of this country that has the bulk of the wealth (of which I am), would we say it is ok for the company big wigs with millions of dollars to get a lesser sentence for making bad decisions because of the affect that stricter consequence would have on their lives. No. Had this potential teacher not been held accountable for her actions, she could learn that she can get away with lying and taking advantage and try for something bigger next time. In fact I understand that it was more than just school enrollment – other subsidies for those children were being received by the woman at her father’s address.

    I also don’t believe that this means the woman and her children will be poor forever. Perhaps if she learns from the consequense of her actions and transfers this learning to her future she will make choices to move into another profession that will enable her to take care of her family and move them to a better situation than she is currently in.

    I am a member of the education community and a parent. I’m not silly enough to think that every teacher is a saint, but I’d prefer not to have someone that lies for familial gain teaching my child.

    1. Meg,

      Ok outside the voice of the article I agree with you that what this woman did was completely wrong. I would not lie to get my kids into a better school district. Nor would I help my adult children do the same. I might take drastic action to ensure they have a better chance (IE sign custody over to my mother were she to live in a better school district and mine was truly dangerous and neglectful of my child and her education…thankfully I’m not in that position.)

      There are always solutions. Perhaps contacting the district, many times they will accept transfers (even of kids who don’t technically “live” in the proper zone…I mean after all, like Judy said, not every person who pays taxes that benefit the school have children that attend) and can offer scholarships to reduce the tuition (if not make it free).

      The community service, jail time, and pretty massive fines I totally agree with. That’s not my qualm. It’s the felony charge. I have first hand experience the kind of life-ruining, opportunity-slicing, reputation-damning damage a felony brings. Not me, my ex-husband. While we are divorced now, I had no choice then but to deal with the jobs he couldn’t get, the colleges and vo-techs that would not enroll him, and the benefits we as a couple were denied. Now he earned his and those were his consequences to deal with. But they were also mine as his then-wife, our daughter’s who suffered because I was the only one with income, even his mother’s and MY mother’s as we often had to turn to them for assistance. The woman’s children must deal with this now. And her father. And her. She put money and time and effort forth for absolutely nothing. Nothing. She is back to square one. I don’t know how old she is but with a sixteen year old she is at minimum in her thirties, looking awfully close at her forties. Square one is a terrible place to be. (I say from the edge of square three or four…I remember square one. I hate square one…chances are pretty great you remember and hated it too)

      As to the big companies, I would raise the same rant if I believed the punishment to be disproportional to the crime. On the same token people who did a lot worse than lying in a desperate (though misguided) attempt to help their children, get off with a lot less.

  2. I have a teaching degree, and four children who have been blessed to go to some pretty great schools in our moves across the country. I have to say I’m very saddened by this article.

    One thing I don’t get though…I work in a library and we only offer ‘free’ library cards to people in our county, since their taxes pay for our services. The same principle applies to schools.

    But in this case, the grandfather DID pay taxes in that wealthier district. If the woman and her children lived with grandpa, they would have legally been going to the better school, even if they didn’t pay one dime of taxes themselves.

    The grandpa is paying taxes for the schools in his district. There’s no rule that says his grandchildren can’t ‘use’ those taxes to get an education. So this woman didn’t truly ‘steal’ from the taxpayers. Her father has now gone back to paying for other people’s kids to go to a better school.

    Just a thought….thanks for the post, Jenn.


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