We’ve moved into our new apartment. Tomorrow, we will officially no longer be homeless. There is still doubt, things still may not come through, but for now, it seems, all is well. The hurricane is coming.
Irene is her name. Perhaps she is the storm we need to knock us back into place. To take this heavy out of the air and make things clear again. Sometimes the shoe has to fall for everything to find its place again. I feel that way today. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. If my friend lends me the $900 I need, then we will be, officially, Wilton residents again. For now, we’re just hanging out in an unclaimed apartment. But tomorrow can bring surprises and I don’t know what they’ll be. I don’t know if they’ll be. I know this: there is a hurricane looming in the air. It’s name is Irene. She will bring a difference, a change, an ending to a heaviness that has been pressing on me for so long. I need the release. She will either show or not. It will happen or it won’t. But from my perspective, something needs to happen. A change must come. And it will be for the best.
My son is not registered for school. The district will not allow him to be. We need an address in town or he can not attend school. I remember back to his PPT meeting with the new team of teachers in and specialty workers transitioning us from elementary to middle school back in April. They warned then they’d need an address in town. We’d just been displaced from our home. I didn’t know then what the future would bring. But now, the time is here to be sure. I will know tomorrow if I have a Wilton address, if I have a place to stay. I will know and it will be what it is. What will happen if I can’t write that check, I don’t know. But I will know this. My son will not be staying in Wilton schools. Today was “walk through/meet the teacher” day. We did not get an invite. Class schedules went out. My son’s friends talked about them. He didn’t get one. None will be coming in our mail. We have to provide an address, or  he doesn’t have school to go to. Recently, a highly publicized case occurred in our area. Tanya McDowell was a homeless woman who, previous to becoming homeless had resided in Bridgeport, CT. After moving to a shelter she used her friend’s Norwalk address to send her son to Norwalk, CT public schools. She was found out, her son removed from his school and she was arrested. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison and $15,000 worth of fines. Here is the link to an article on the case:

This is a reality. Towns defend their tax dollars with a ferocity. Child molesters get less time behind bars. It’s sick, the focus we put on money. How is this child getting an education a danger to our society? Isn’t more dangerous to NOT properly educate him? What’s the main arguement?- The run on better school systems that might occur if we let “one of them” get away with it??? Then we need to find ways to balance out our school systems. Children in Bridgeport are deprived of a decent education.

Having been homeless, I know the confusion that arises. If you don’t know where you’re going to lay your head each night, how the hell do you figure out where to forward your mail? P.O. Boxes don’t count as addresses for school systems. The whole issue is crazy. I believe the homeless shelter she was living in was in Norwalk. Wouldn’t that give her son the right to an education in district? This case demonstrates the poignant reality of our times. School districts do not open their doors to the homeless. I believe if you are placed in a shelter you ARE allowed to use the district that shelter is in. There are no shelters in Wilton (needless to say- though there are in Westport, CT which is just as affluent a community). Still, what about those of us who didn’t even have a room in a shelter? The truth about space in a shelter is that there has to be room available. If they are all filled, then you and your child remain homeless. I remember the LCSW from Wilton calling me when she found out I was having trouble getting together the rest of the down payment for this apartment. She called with the “good news” that we’d only have to wait two weeks before space was available in the Shelter closest to us, in a neighboring town. So my son would have had to miss a week of school because, until we officially resided in the shelter, we would have had no official address to place us into a school district. I mean seriously??? We can’t work out a better system then this? So many people are being displaced because of the financial fall out. Why is protecting our tax dollars more important then protecting our children?  In  the case of Tanya McDowell, the state is willing to spend more on her incarceration then it was on her son’s education. WTF???? How does that make ANY sense at all. Oh, that’s right, private corporations profit from the prison system in the U.S.A. No profits to the private sector for sending a kid to school. Intolerable. I am so frustrated and hurt! Hurt for my son’s sake, that he doesn’t have what all these other children do: a place where he belongs. He belongs with me, yes, of course, but I am not all he needs.

…balance must be restored.

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