Conn. mom pleads not guilty over school enrollment

Norwalk officials have said there is far more to the story than a downtrodden single mother seeking a better education for her son.

McDowell’s supporters say her son attended preschool in Norwalk and therefore qualifies to attend its public schools.

Authorities, however, say her most recent permanent address was in Bridgeport, making that his home district. They say instead of following proper procedures, McDowell lied to use the address of the baby sitter and, according to court records, wrote on the enrollment affidavit that the baby sitter was her son’s legal guardian.

The baby sitter has been evicted from her public housing unit, but has not been criminally charged.

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia told the Hartford Courant this week that the district never would have rejected a homeless student and offers extensive services for those children, but that parents must follow proper procedures.

He said he is upset at how Norwalk has been portrayed and that McDowell “has somehow become a heroine (while) the city and the prosecutor’s office has become the devil incarnate.” A spokeswoman from his office said Wednesday he would have no further public comments on the case.

Complicating matters is the fact that Moccia’s daughter, Suzanne Vieaux, is the top prosecutor whose office is handling McDowell’s case.

McDowell’s attorney, Darnell Crosland, said Wednesday they will ask a judge to move the case to another courthouse to avoid the potential conflict of interest. A message left for Vieaux was not immediately returned Wednesday.

McDowell is scheduled to return to court May 11 for the school enrollment case. She will also appear before a judge that day on the unrelated case in which she was charged last November with possessing 62 small bags of marijuana and 14 of crack cocaine.

Her attorney says the drug case is unrelated to the enrollment case.

“There’s no relevance to anything else at all, other than Ms. McDowell’s son getting an education and staying in school,” Crosland said.

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