Point of View: An Education


I have read with interest articles about Matias Pulgar Alfaro cooling his heels at his cousin’s home in Springs while the Springs School District, which has denied his request to attend East Hampton High School, and his guardian’s attorney wrangle over whether he is, in fact, a resident of the district.

To be so, apparently, he would either have to be in his parents’ care (they have returned to Chile from Springs) or in the care of a legal guardian. His cousin, Silvia Rea, says she is his legal guardian, but a Family Court judge has yet to say so. In the meantime, the boy, who would be a junior, is dangling while everyone argues about whether he should be allowed to avail himself of a gold-plated East Hampton High School education. 

One of those commenting on the article, which appeared on the Patch.com Web site last week, raised the specter of European kids flocking to distant relatives’ homes in Springs so they, too, could get educated here. I doubt it. If it were Montgomery County, Md., where my eldest daughter teaches, which has the top schools in the country, maybe.

And speaking of my daughter, who moved here from suburban Pittsburgh so that she could spend the second semester of her senior high school year with me, I was reminded the other night that I never had custody. It had been denied to me when, years before, I had asked their mother, from whom I was divorced, that we share it. (Had we done so, I might have been eligible for affordable housing here.)

But that was then. No sharp-eyed school attorney, alerted to possible fraud by a budget-conscious complainant, ever challenged me. “Graves is a parent, yes, but his wife denied him legal custody. . . .” 

In fact, Emily, blond, blue-eyed, and a drop-dead cheerleader, was welcomed at the high school with open arms!

That’s not all. For a time, Mary and I harbored at our house at Harbor View a “foster daughter” (also blond, blue-eyed, and irrepressible) whose father had reneged on his care-giving responsibilities. We said, “Come live with us,” and she did. No formal papers of any kind. We were not her parents, we were not her relatives, we were not her legal guardians. She continued going to the high school. Nobody said a thing. She’s done well too. Soon she’s going to law school.

Of course I know, now that I’ve confessed to fraud in two cases, that what I say may not be deemed worthy, but I think it’s a crock. Let the kid go to school, while, in the meantime Ms. Rea fills out, in the words of one commenter, “el maldito certificado.”

As one of my friends always reminds me whenever I begin to moan about school taxes, “It’s your turn now — somebody did it for you.”