Go Directly To Jail!

An Ohio woman has been sentenced to 5 years in prison suspended after serving only 10 days and 3 years of probation for a felony conviction for fraudulently enrolling her two daughters in a rural school district for which she does not live.  She admittedly used her father’s address who lives in Copely Township rather than the Akron school district.  She claims both the Akron and Copely Township residence as her own since she claims she had been caring for her father, and lived an equal time at both places.  “The Akron city school district met only four of 26 standards on the latest Ohio Department of Education Report Card and had a 76% graduation rate. Copley-Fairlawn City Schools met 26 of 26 standards and had a 97.5% graduation rate.”

 I am not concerned with her guilt or innocence in this matter, in fact if I had to guess, I’d be inclined towards guilty.  But for the sake of argument, let’s assume this woman is guilty.  I would like to address the sentence imposed.  Why did she receive a suspended sentence after only 10 days on a 5 year conviction?  I think this decision is very telling.  Felonies tend to be for the more serious crimes.  So how could such a serious crime warrant only 10 days?

This is what happens when prosecutors follow the letter of the law rather than the intent.  In March of 2009 Sally Harpold bought cough medicine for her husband and again for her daughter later in the same week and was arrested because “Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.”  The law was intended to reduce the amount of illegal drugs manufactured from the cough medicine, not to prevent this woman from caring for her sick family.

It seems the judge knew the punishment did not fit the crime, and may have even had suspicion that the woman’s claim of dual residency entitling her to the better school was legitimate.  I would say if the charges were valid, and the punishment associated with the crime is reasonable; the judge should have imposed the highest sentence allowed by law. 

In my experience in trial courts (in my state) is that when people take their case to trial and are found guilty, the maximum sentence is imposed–multiple charges are served consecutively and certainly no suspended sentences; especially when lesser charges and or plea deals are offered.  Even though I believe she is guilty, the suspended sentence imposed by the judge only verifies the penalty itself is too stringent.


  1. hello there, being from australia i’m amazed at your school board, individual zone approach to education. if i was a parent, i’d lie through my ever reducing teeth to get them the best education possible. i’m a bit confused though after reading your post a few times, as to who gets what penalty .. non the less. thanks

  2. In Finland we have a law that says all schools must have equal standards of education. Here the schools are all the same no matter where you live. We are one of the highest ranking countries in PISA tests, so this has actually made our general standards of education better. I am not saying there are no problems here, but it seems utterly wrong, that parents would have to think their children are not getting proper education just because where they live. Are the better schools in US in areas where rich people live, and poor schools for the poor kids?

    • It’s hard to say without offending people. We have the same standards, but inner-city schools regularly do more poorly than suburban schools. I think the biggest problem is the parents lack of involvement and lack of care. The city kids do not get the same push and expectations from their parents and as a result they exert less effort to do well.

      Kids tend to live up to expectations, if you don’t expect very much from them, they will likely fail and see nothing wrong with it. The benefit this woman had was her children’s peers in school are motivated to do well and it’s a better environment. The mother obviously cared for the kids education so the kids will likely do well.

      The trouble is, you can’t make a kid want to learn and do well in school, and if there is no push from the parents or the kid’s friends, it is not a very good outlook for the kid in an inner-city school.

      • Kelsey Barringham says:

        It’s not specifically a race issue or economic class issue, it’s more an issue to itself that tends to over lap with other issues along with complementing them in both positive and negative ways. Are schools aren’t exactly even through out the country, but even between neighboring districts. I really have a difficult time believing one can get the same education in a school where the community fears for their safety and funds are spent on metal detectors & cleaning up vandalism as ones that has gifted programs and extra curricular activities. We also need to look at what schools can recruit better teachers, a lot of times it’s not just students who fear for their safety but teachers as well who then have to worry about commuting distance and what schools their own children will be in. Also, in the US the rules for “what ensures equality in education” aren’t perfectly defined. I know specifically New York and more specifically New York City has a lot of issues (though I’m sure many other areas suburban, rural, urban etc. have these same issues but I only know examples from this region specifically). New York City school board had the issue recently that it’s attempt in equality was to give each public school an equal amount of money. In theory this sounded fine and fair, but ended up with the reality being unfair. The issue was that school population size ended up neglected somehow (it was disputed if this was purposely over looked or if decisions were made off outdated statistical material that were simply not in the budget to be re-evaluated) So each school got the same money, but neighboring districts had HUGE differences in the numbers of students they instructed. It was so bad, that things such as student to computer ratios would be 6 to 1 in one district and over 30 to 1 in another, and with more and more focus being on the use of technology in education many students were put at a huge disadvantage. Similar things happened with teachers as well, some schools had the resources to pay higher salaries so those districts got better teachers.

        Another issue I have with this story is the subjectiveness of cases. I can’t say how often district jumping happens there in particular, but there are some schools who will do the opposite for their benefit. One example is with athletes. Many times if a star athlete puts down an unofficial address it’s hush, hushed because their bring in booster dollars. So is the crime here really going to school in a different district, or simply not paying your keep in that district?

  3. Do you think she should have served the 5yr sentence? I don’t. I think it is ridiculous that she was brought in in the first place. I wonder if the school had an open enrolment policy.. if so, was she simply guilty of not filling out the proper paper work? I know some people personally that have done this before to get their child in better school districts. I can’t say that I blame them. If I were in a situation with a bad school district, I would probably buy a cheep trailer/crappy house in the school district that was better than the school district I was in and claim it as my address… who wouldn’t do that for their child? I have two children and am very involved with the school. I also watch a lot of documentaries about schools, “The Cartel,” “Waiting for Superman,” are two I would recommend. I would also recommend reading Thomas Sowell, “Inside the American Education” to get a good grasp on how American Schools work and how sad it has become… lol, I just saw Thomas Sowell on the right of my screen! YEAH! I know I don’t comment on your posts that often but I do read them.. have I ever mentioned that I think you are AWESOME!.. *I say in fear of sounding like an oddball.
    Nevertheless, I think that this woman should not have been dragged into court. The school district does not have to pay for the court fees/lawyers out of pocket, STATE does. :( The schools however make the decision on what goes to court…I think it is a shame that not only did the school decided to spend more of the tax payers dollars on something so trivial, but that they made this woman go through it in the first place when she obviously cares enough about her child/children to take time to look into the efficiency of the comparing schools.

    • Yeah, KT, I don’t think this should have been a court issue. If they were so concerned with this woman’s actions, they should have just went after her for back taxes or something else. The fact that the sentence was practically unimposed tells us that even the court thought the punishment didn’t fit the crime. I think if schools were more privatized, and people were given vouchers (equivalent to their tax portion that is used for schooling) to send their kids where ever they wanted, not only would schools get better due to competition, they’d get cheaper.

      This woman was a victim of a poor public school system.

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