Imagine being arrested and charged with a felony, simply for sending your child to school. This is what happened to the Garcia family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after police arrested parents Olesia and Hamlet, for having sent their five year-old daughter to a Montgomery County Public School.
Charged with “theft of services,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman has demanded the family pay the county over $10,000, asserting that their daughter’s continued enrollment in the suburban school amounted to felony theft. The charges stem from an evolving dispute over zoning and school district borders, which unbeknownst to many is an issue faced by families and communities throughout the country. In the case of the Garcias, the theft accusation is rooted in the mother Olesia’s use of her own fathers address in Lower Moreland Township, which resides in the district itself, so as to help avoid sending her daughter to the substandard and often dangerous Philadelphia school system.
The story of the Garcia’s tribulations in trying to provide their daughter with a quality education, mirrors that of a 2011 Akron Ohio case involving one Kelly Williams-Bolar, who after falsifying residency documents, so as to allow her children to attend a safe and well regarded suburban school, spent 10 days in jail for refusing to pay $30,000 to the school district for what they also labeled as “theft” of a public education.
Many education fairness and social justice advocates have been raising alarms as to the increasing numbers of these arrests and prosecutions of people who’s only crime is seeking a better life and future for their children.
Watch an interview with the Garcia family in the video below: