Parents Accused Of Stealing Education For 5-Year-Old Daughter - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Parents Accused Of Stealing Education For 5-Year-Old Daughter

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Hamlet and Olesia Garcia addressed reporters Thursday and insisted they aren't criminals. The two are charged with education theft. Hamlet and Olesia Garcia addressed reporters Thursday and insisted they aren't criminals. The two are charged with education theft.
PHILADELPHIA -

Hamlet and Olesia Garcia insist they are not criminals- just a married couple going through a tough time, and trying to do what's right for their young daughter.

"We never have an intention to deceive anyone," says Hamlet with a heavy sigh. "These charges, we believe, are based on a misunderstanding by the authorities."

The Garcias are charged with theft of service- a felony- by Montgomery County authorities, in a case that has parents all over the country talking.

The Garcia's live in Philadelphia- on Philmont Terrace- near the Montgomery County border.

By rights, their then-5 year old daughter Fiorella should have attended kindergarten last year, at nearby Loesche Elementary school- still within the city.

But the couple says when they separated prior to last school year, Olesia took Fiorella to live with mom's father in Huntingdon Valley, and the little girl attended Pine Road School in the Lower Moreland district.

The couple says they reconciled late in the school year, and mom and daughter moved back to their Philly address.

It was around that time, that Montgomery County authorities began to investigate.

They claim the family never officially lived in the Lower Moreland district, and so, had scammed the district out of a $10,753 out-of-district tuition payment.

Says Hamlet: "All we want is, to pay the tuition and ask the DA please to drop the charges."

The couple's attorney calls the case a misunderstanding, and an invasion of privacy.

"We're getting really into people's personal lives," said Thomas Kenny during a midday news conference. "And once we get into people's bedrooms, I think it's a time for all of us to change this constitution."

Parent activists who support the Garcias, say the real crime, is how we fund our public schools: live in a wealthy neighborhood, get the best of everything. Live in a poor neighborhood, and make due with less.

"It should never be a crime for a parent to do what is right for their child," says Gwen Samuel of the Connecticut Parents Union. "And one of the rights and obligations we have as parents, is to make sure that our children- and all children- have access to a great education."

FOX 29 was unable to reach Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman Vetri for comment on the Garcias' claims.

The couple is due in court December 19, for a formal arraignment.

If convicted on the theft charges, they could- at least in theory- spend time behind bars.

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