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The States That Put You in Jail For “Stealing Education”

By: Krystle Crossman

We want our children to get the best education that they possibly can. Some parents will go to great lengths to make this happen such as coming up with tuition money to send them to private school. But what if you don’t have that kind of money? Some parents are sending their children to schools that are outside of the district that their children live in and lying to the schools about their residence so that their child can have a better education. While this may seem harmless, it is actually considered “stealing” in some states and there are eight places at this time that will put parents in jail for lying about where the student lives.

Remember Kelley Williams-Bolar? She was an Ohio mother who attempted to provide her daughters with a better education and landed behind bars. She was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district.

Public schools are funded by property taxes in the city that the school is in. If you don’t live in the city that the school is in, you are technically not paying for your child to go there. Your property tax money goes to the schools in your district to pay for your child’s education. When you send your child to a different district you are using up money that other tax payers put in to the system and not returning the favor by paying taxes in as well. This is why some states are cracking down on punishments for parents that do this.

The states that are putting up punishment for boundary-jumping are:

– New York
– Washington DC
– Pennsylvania
– Ohio
– Michigan
– Illinois
– Oklahoma
– Missouri

One woman in New York sent her kids to a different school and was eventually arrested and charged with felony grand larceny. Eventually her charges were dropped to a misdemeanor but she did spend time in jail. She said that she did not regret it and would do it again if it meant that her children got a better education. They estimated that she had cost the tax payers in that district $28,000.

Others have been arrested on charges of theft by deception. They have made some of the parents pay back the money that they racked up in “tuition”. Other states are now beginning to join these eight places as well, such as Connecticut. If you want your child to have the best education possible it seems that they either need to be taught at home or you will have to move your entire family if you do not like the school that they currently attend.

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12 thoughts on “The States That Put You in Jail For “Stealing Education”

  1. rick turner

    This is BullSH,,, everybody that is not rich and have no write offs r paying more taxes percentage wise than the rich. So the inner school kids should have a better education & Schools…….Point is everybody is paying taxes everywhere and its all going 2 the State 2 B distributed. UNEQUALLY I MUST CONFESS……..

    • N. Wood

      Rick Turner and all the others who used words I wanted to use but don’t, you are so correct in your observation of the tax distribution and how this to is another means of segregation. Our prisons and jails are already more crowded than most countries and now we put parents in jail because they want the best education for their children? Well it is our fault. If the so called ‘pro-lifers’ can shut down planned parenthood clinics, as parents, grandparents and just concerned citizens, we need to take a page from those crazies and begin to make our voices heard.

    • Parentpower

      This law is wrong because it has to many gray areas without giving parents and the child due process. Plus it targets families of color more than any other population – Note CT started this law in 1833 called the BLACK LAW which forbade “colored girls” from crossing state lines to attend the only integrated school in north run by Prudence Crandall

      CT stopped the arrest of parents June 24 2013 by passing the law that stops the arrest of parents for school residency violations and holds administrative due process hearings instead

      Here are some gray areas Example:
      1. suppose a victim of domestic violence leaves their abuser and moves in with a friend or family member to stay safe and enrolls the child in that neighborhood even though there official address is in another school district would you really felony arrest the victim of abuse or offer an administrative remedy i.e due process hearing to hear the circumstances and offer appropriate support to ensure the childs’ safety and academic well being.
      2. Suppose a family becomes homeless, they should be protected by Mckinney Vento homeless act for homeless children but that law is enforced so wrong at times therefore we would hate to FELONY arrest a homeless family for school residency zip/code violations

      Therefore we should say that “this law is criminal” not the parents seeking a safe & quality school for their children

      There are other ways to address zip-code education laws without making a “new wave of Felons”

      1. Hold ALL schools accountable to safety & high standards of learning in ALL neighborhoods/zip-codes but as we know there is lots of money in failing kids – especially Black & brown Kids because of the privitization of prisons & juvenile facilities

      2. Every public school child has a per pupil amount attached to them so let the money follow the child so if a parent enrolls a child outside of their district the money goes with the child and the district does not lose.

      3. Save the tax payers money by holding an administrative hearing to address the fact and work together to put the academic needs of the child first

    • Chris40

      That should of been the fight right there, make sure all schools get the same funding in the state. I read in Dr. Claud Anderson’s book “Powernomics.” Dr Anderson was over the schools in Florida. North Florida recieve more money than schools in Southern Florida, or maybe the other way around, but funding of Florida schools wasn’t fair. During Dr Anderson’s watch, a law was passed that all schools in Florida got the same funding.

  2. SayWhat

    Stealing…really!?! What BS! Sounds to me like racist segregation by another name. So if a kid from the suburbs begs his parents to let him go to an inner city school, would his parents go to jail, or get a fat tax refund?

    • Devon

      No kid from the suburbs is crazy enough to want to a school in the hood and no parent is crazy enough to let them so that comparison is epic fail. Why cant people demand betterment of their schools in their district own districts? And why do yall keep sending your kids to schools where you know they arent wanted, the people who live in nice areas and pay high taxes dont want them here. If yall arent living in the good areas then move to the good areas and your kids have a right to go to the good schools.

  3. madpoet429

    Its only stealing if your BLACK Kid cant get that school in a Playoff game! This is b/s! Athletic Black kids have been transported beyond school zones from day 1. This is another form of Jim Crow when every damn body is paying taxes but the Richest MF’s in that district. Like i said, if your kid can get them into the Playoffs, everybody looks the other way.

  4. DJ

    With all due respect, having lived through this, there are two sides to this story. I lived in a suburban community in Ohio with high taxes and some of the best schools in the nation. My husband and I worked hard to pay those taxes and higher housing costs. When I took custody of my nieces and nephews a representative from our school district attended our custody hearing without invite. I thought that it was really over-reaching and until this day am bothered by them inserting themselves into such a personal family matter. They were there due to my address and the fact that my relatives would be entering their school district and got a regular listing of such hearings from the city. I was surprised to find that before my nieces and nephews arrived the district had already begun to order resources for these children and when they arrived at school they already had supports in place, having also receiving their previous school transcripts/records in advance. My sister wanted her children in the same schools, but lived and paid taxes to another city. She would have had to have an actual lease or mortgage that legitimately placed her children in the community, to show that she made a financial contribution to the schools there before being permitted to send her children there. Our district was proactive and worked hard to serve it’s students and would not have been able to provide the level of support and resources if it opened its doors to anyone, particularly if their tax money was going to other cities where they lived. Education costs money. Districts need money to provide educational services. Residents in our district make the sacrifices to pay high or higher taxes so that our young can get the quality of education provided. Districts have a responsibility to act on behalf of those residents. Many of the residents/parents in these communities also work to raise money, attend school meetings, etc. to ensure that the quality of their children’s education is not minimized. Having worked in urban school districts for much of my career, I understand how difficult things can be for those parents who want more for their children. Many of these parents, however, never attend a school meeting in their own communities, never work to uplift the schools there, but instead look for a quick fix where one really does not exist. You have to put in the work to get good schools. My recommendation would be to organize in this way at home, particularly if they can not afford private schools, and hold those districts accountable for educating your children well, rather than trying to take from what others have done and getting themselves into trouble. No shade.

  5. Kane Butler

    I just don’t understand those that think it is okay to steal education from where one does not live…..people in those areas pay Taxes to have good schools and those that think it is okay to steal are just down right WRONG!!!!!!!! Move in or near by if you want your child to have the best, if not stop the stealing!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Chris40

    Instead of sneaking kids to good schools, why not clean up the schools that parents are running away from. Make them better. There are good examples on this thread.


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