Mom jailed for enrolling kids in wrong school district
Kelley Williams-Bolar is escorted through the Summit County, Ohio, jail.
January 26th, 2011
12:24 PM ET

Mom jailed for enrolling kids in wrong school district

An Ohio mother is in jail after being convicted of tampering with records to enroll her children in a better school district.

Kelley Williams-Bolar, 40, of Akron, illegally registered her two daughters at her father's address in suburban Copley Township to get them into the Copley-Fairlawn school district rather than the urban Akron district, a jury decided.

The Akron City school district met only four of 26 standards on the latest Ohio Department of Education Report Card and had a 76% graduation rate. Copley-Fairlawn City Schools met 26 of 26 standards and had a 97.5% graduation rate.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Williams-Bolar last week to five years in prison, but suspended all but 10 days. Williams-Bolar also must serve 80 hours of community service and will be on probation for three years.

The Rev. Lorenzo Glenn of Macedonia Baptist Church had asked the judge for leniency, saying he had known Williams-Bolar for more than 20 years, the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper reported.

"This is a serious matter," Glenn said, according to the paper, "but by all means, it was done to help her children."

Williams-Bolar told CNN affiliate WEWS-TV that she and her children considered her father's house one of their homes.

"My primary residence was both places. I stayed at both places," she said in an interview at the Summit County Jail.

Williams-Bolar's father, Edward Williams, told CNN affiliate WJW-TV that the children did live with him, so he believed the family was within the law.

He said his daughter's Akron neighborhood - where she lives in government-subsidized housing - isn't safe.

"She had 12 police reports that her house had been broken in, so what am I supposed to do? Just leave them there?" Williams said to WJW-TV. "I mean, I can protect them better if they was with me."

Williams-Bolar, a single mother, works as a teacher's aide at a high school in Akron and is just 12 credits away from earning a teaching degree at the University of Akron, according to the Beacon Journal.

Her felony conviction will bar her from being licensed to teach in Ohio.

Copley-Fairlawn Superintendent Brian Poe told WJW-TV the case cost the district $30,000 in two years of lost tuition and $6,000 it spent on the investigation.

He denied that Williams-Bolar was singled out because she is black and the Copley-Fairlawn district is 75% white.

The district almost always resolves residency cases without involving the courts, he told WJW-TV, but couldn't work out a resolution with Williams-Bolar.

"The way I look at it is, the bottom line, you need to follow the law," he said. "If you choose to step outside of the law, what's going to happen at that point is you are going to have to face the consequences for that."

Williams-Bolar told WEWS she intends to appeal her conviction.

Grand theft charges against her father resulted in a hung jury. No new trial date has been set.

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Filed under: Crime • Education • Justice • Ohio
soundoff (698 Responses)
  1. lobo feroz

    THERE IS NO LAW IN THE STATES, OUR LAWS SUCK.. arrest the bankers and govt..

    this is silly but every day silly laws ... jail is our only answer or violence.. this is why people Attack the govt

    January 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patriot

      I am just glad this is getting attention. Let's all focus on why this person thought that they had to do this. Let's educate all of our children properly.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joseph

    Where is the justice? Here is a mother who is trying to do what is right for her children and the system pulls her back down. I suppose the judge and prosecutor was feels big about their self for destroying a families life. I think it is an injustice that we as human-beings give others the power to harm others with no regards to the future of OUR children. "WE THE PEOPLE" That means everyone. We as a human race need to fight back and hold our educational system accountable.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Please!

      It was the people–a jury of her peers–who found her guilty.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D

    If the grandfather is not the children's legal guardian, then the kids legally live at the parent's address.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ginger

    this is ridiculous! jailing a woman for trying to get her children a better education?!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. N

    Forcing people to send their children to state school is the problem. Forcing them to send their children to a school that they are arbitrarily zoned for is the problem. Forcing parents to have no choice is the problem.

    It's even worse for divorced parents, unless you're the one with two X chromosomes. If you're the mom you often automatically have all the power and you can make your primary residence 1 hour away from the other parent, even if you have 50/50 custody, which translates into roughly 4 hours a day of driving for the XY parent (somehow his chromosomes mean that he doesn't get equal say, even if the divorce decree says so), just to get the kid to and from school. If this were a truly fair system then parents should be able to choose what school to send their children to regardless of where they chose to live. If it were a fair system your address and your chromosomes wouldn't even factor into the equation.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Soldier

    @Aloisae

    If your facts are correct your comment is AWESOME!!!!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Angel

    I think it’s just ridiculous that she was put in jail for wanting better for her children. If it’s such a big deal for just her doing it, what about all the other people that do It.? There has to be a whole lot more parents, than just her, who are doing it. Maybe it could be racism....

    January 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Momof2

      Misleading a school district to enroll in a different school is nothing new and is certainly not uncommon. However, in most cases it's for the benefit and convenience of the parents. In this case it wasn't convenient to the parent and it was for the benefit of the children.

      Why this isn't an administrative breach that could have been worked out to the benefit of all rather than a criminal case that will destroy a career, a family and a community is unfathomable.

      I'm a white upper middle class Mom and this definately smells of race.

      January 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Guest

    They jail people for the wrong reasons, even if only for ten days. This woman is dealing with what all parents who don't have a lot of money deal with (myself included)–we want our children to get the best education possible. I can think of at least three people I know that have done the same thing to get their kids into a better school. Get creative with the address and residency. Is it a crime to want better things for your kids? Particularly when the system tells you they have to go to school in the lousy neighborhood where you live–only because the rent is what you can afford? This woman is guilty of nothing more than caring for her children and wanting more for them. She's got a job, she's going to school, I'm sure she's exhausted doing what she can for her family. I hardly think what she did out of love for her kids deserves jail time.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Los Angeles Reader

    Just because its a law, doesn't mean its right. Who came up with the law? I bet it was enacted when voting rights didn't exist, or the rights could have existed and been ignored. They were probably ignored.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. WHO ME

    The question I have that many over looked, she lives in government-subsidized housing. Did she report to them she and her children lived with her father. Isnt that a form of fraud? They would have to take his income into factor for the benefits as well since they lived there too. What a lesson to teach the children LIE and you may get what you want and get away with it. I'm so tired of race being pulled into everything when things don't go their way.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • From northeast Ohio

      You bring up a good point that this story is leaving out, however the local news here in northeast Ohio did investigate and she did claim the children were living with her when she applied for government assistance for housing. This is where the fraud was really committed. The only reason why she didn't legitimately enroll the children in the district either by actually living with her father or by giving him custody is because she wanted to live in Akron and she wanted more money for housing, which she got by claiming the children were living with her. I think she is being selfish because she didn't properly enroll the children from the beginning. They are making an example of her, but only because when they confronted her with the situation she continued to fight the school district when she was obviously wrong and falsified paper work with the school district and with the housing authority in Akron.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tpinla

    The real reason she got jail was cause her kids were BNA. Black Non Athletes.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      and amen.... I live in an area that is over 90% white (so am I, it matters in this story), and the majority of us (including me) live in gov't housing. When my family moved here, my sister was allowed to attend school in a district 45 minutes away, because she was an honor student and the education system in this town is basically get a GED or go without a diploma. A black student (great guy, not an athlete or honor student) moved with two months to go in his senior year, and they wouldn't allow him to attend classes at his old school, which was less than five minutes away. It was ENTIRELY racially motivated, no matter how much the school district denied it.

      January 27, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Yeah, right.

      Actually, it's because she said the children were living with her so she could get subsidized housing and then said they were living with her father so they could go to the other school. She was playing the system. So was her father. Do some research on what he's being charged with.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. zamboni

    Ummmm – I know some rich white people who spend half of the year in one house and half in another. Their children go to the school that the parent chooses or they split the school year up. How is Mrs. Williams-Bohler's situation different and illegal? Because she doesn't file taxes there and the grandfather doesn't have custody? And the school couldn't have just said, legally change your address or transfer the children to the other school district!!!! Why did she have to be convicted. This is rediculous.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lifesabeach

    Akron City School District should be brought up on charges, not this mother! Outraged that a parent is convicted for trying to provide a better life for herself and her children. The crime is what she had to work with!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Corriedawn Greiling-Fritsch

    wow. simply wow. this is one of the most heart breaking pieces of news i have read. this must be the american dream at work here. that poor woman. her poor children. i am a white middle class woman and i can see that this is clearly a race/class/poverty issue. what a travesty.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mona

    Ohio is a very racist state. I can't believe they were so harsh. Here she is trying to better herself and get the best possible start for her children. This should be looked into.This so sad. My heart goes out to you mom

    January 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
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