Fighting for You: Huntsville Mother Claims School District Is Keeping Her Kids Out Of School Because They’re Homeless

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A Huntsville mother wants her two children in school. Huntsville school leaders aren't letting the children attend class. The mom thinks it's because she's homeless. The mother emailed WHNT NEWS 19 to see if we could get the children enrolled.

Gwendolyn Ragland, who recently ran for the Huntsville City School Board, lost her home to a fire in November 2011. She and her children have moved home to home since. Ragland believes her homeless status gives her the opportunity to put the children in a school of her choice. The school district doesn't see it that way.

A dryer fire burned down Ragland's home. She is working to rebuild the home.

"I'm living among friends and different people," said Ragland.

Ragland's temporary places to stay with her children are mostly in Huntsville. She and her two sons often stay with a family member in Toney.

The boys are in the 7th and 10th grades, but are being kept out of class.

"My issue, they would not allow my children to go to Huntsville City Schools," added Ragland.

Ragland believes her homeless status is keeping her boys out of school. Both were enrolled at the start of the school year, but are now withdrawn. She says the school district believes she owns three homes including one in Toney. Ragland says the home destroyed by fire and her other property are not livable.

Occupied ownership in Toney would require Ragland to send her children to Madison County Schools.

"I do not own anything in Toney, Alabama.  Someone stole my identity and used my name if I do. I have no knowledge of it," added Ragland.

WHNT NEWS 19's Venton Blandin checked out Ragland's story with the Madison County Tax Assessors Office.  Ragland's story appears to be true.  Someone in that office provided documents to WHNT NEWS 19 proving Ragland does not own the property in Toney.

WHNT NEWS 19 showed the documents to Huntsville's Deputy Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Barbara Cooper told WHNT NEWS 19 the school system does not have a problem with Ragland's living situation.

"We need registration paperwork and we need a building construction permit indicating that there is on-going construction happening at the location she's designated as her residence," said Dr. Cooper.

WHNT NEWS 19 talked with Ragland since the interview. She's now aware of the school district's request for more documentation.

Venton Blandin also talked with Ragland about the recent school board election. He asked Raland why she put the location of the burned home as her place of residence when running for the city school board.

Ragland replied, "It is my permanent address. It is where I vote from. Everything is centered around that address."

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