Conn. mom pleads guilty in school residency case

February 22, 2012 - 7:45 PM

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut woman who was homeless has pleaded guilty to fraudulently enrolling her son in the wrong school district.

Tonya McDowell entered her plea Wednesday in Norwalk Superior Court under the Alford Doctrine, meaning she doesn't admit guilt but concedes the state has enough evidence to convict her.

She also pleaded guilty to selling narcotics. She faces about five years in prison at sentencing.

McDowell was homeless when she was charged with felony larceny last year. Authorities allege she used a babysitter's address to enroll her son in kindergarten in Norwalk instead of Bridgeport, her last permanent address.

Her case drew national attention and support from civil rights leaders.

The Hearst Connecticut Media Group reports her lawyer says she insists she's not guilty. Lawyer Darnell Crosland says people "shouldn't be arrested for stealing a free education."