Parents can no longer be charged with stealing a free public education in Connecticut

Jul 2, 2013 by

HARTFORD, Conn. – Parents who enroll their children in out-of-town school districts will no longer face criminal charges in the state of Connecticut.

The change was written into House Bill 6677, and signed into law last Monday by Gov. Dannel Malloy, reports the Norwalk Citizen.

Opponents of zip-code education laws – which assign poor and minority students to failing schools simply because of where they live – rejoiced at the news.

“This is a huge civil rights victory for Connecticut,” said Gwen Samuel, a parents’ rights activist.

The law makes Connecticut the “first state to legally stop the felony arrest of parents seeking safe and high-quality schools for their children,” Samuel wrote in a press release.

State Rep. Bruce Morris, a Democrat who led the de-criminalization effort, said it’s still wrong for parents to send their children to a school outside their home district, but added that such behavior shouldn’t be considered a felony.

“Morris said school districts have recourse in civil court for seeking reimbursements for misrepresentation of a student’s home district,” reports the Norwalk Citizen.

Samuel, who leads the Connecticut Parents Union, described the decriminalization of residency violations as “the first step” in the larger effort to save kids from bad schools.

“The next step is to find out if school residency laws are even constitutional,” Samuel told EAGnews.

Samuel believes the state’s constitutional guarantee that all children have a right to an adequate education requires that families be given a choice about which school to attend.

She’d like to see a voucher program established for students trapped in dysfunctional public schools.

A federal court will hear oral arguments about the state’s zip-code laws on July 24. Samuel’s Connecticut Parents Union is representing Marie Menard, a Connecticut grandmother who was arrested for “educational theft” after she helped enroll her three grandchildren at a local school.

Parents can no longer be charged with stealing a free public education in Connecticut – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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