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. truthinrock

    This is worth jail/court time? Can we just throw more money out the window!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Glenn

    Why is the school board spending so much money to investigate one person. Why don't they put the money to good use by putting it into the school. Move the teachers around so that they balance the school districts with good and poor teachers.It also looks like the law is raciest with the way they have pushed this case. Maybe if they put my old 5th grade teacher back to work the kids would learn something.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. E Segonza

    I am a black mother of two preschool-aged children and my concern over school options has led to hours of research, regular visits to school open houses; it plays a huge role in the areas we consider as we look to buy a home and has even led me to consider homeschooling! To be perfectly honest, I thought to do the same thing; ultimately, I recognized that a lie is a lie, bending the truth is a lie, a half truth is a lie. I wasn't willing to leave myself vulnerable to the possible fall out of being found out. So I, thank God, decided against it. STILL, the tragedy and injustice of what's happened to this woman is UNDENIABLE! Her Akron home had been broken into 12 times; she's not sitting back on her behind collecting welfare checks, rather she'd been actively striving to do better for herself and her children; her father with NO school-aged children is PAYING district taxes (the school district isn't serving HIM; so why should he have to pay those taxes??; and the public school system is just flat out failing her and countless other families across this nation! It's as if she's being punished for having the audacity to seek better for her children. *Sigh* I know, I don't know the whole story/her whole story, but this is such a sad reminder that, apparently, just a fair chance is a privilege ... not a right. That's a sad reality, one I hate. I hope her story ultimately ends in triumph.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deborah Post

      I agree with you, and race does no enter into it, economics do. If I can't afford to live in a better area, that doesn't mean my kids should be forced to attend a low performing school. Had that problem when mine were young, but the solution was to apply for permission from the school district to take my kids to a better performing school. Permission was granted and it was one of the smartest things I ever did for my kids.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deborah Post

      I agree with you, and race does not enter into it, economics do. If I can't afford to live in a better area, that doesn't mean my kids should be forced to attend a low performing school. Had that problem when mine were young, but the solution was to apply for permission from the school district to take my kids to a better performing school. Permission was granted and it was one of the smartest things I ever did for my kids.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • I care

      Good Post E Segonza

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

    What a crock of Bull $hlt I mean come on who cares the mother didnt want her daughters going to a bad school I think she should be given a award for doing whats right for the kids, and like 30,000 dollars was really going to make a difference with a failing school I find it so stupid that they charged her with this if the kids live in the district for the better school part of the time I say that they should go to the better school and if I had a house that was being broken into I wouldnt have my kids in it either the court is really stupid on this one.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jenn

    Well she is a single mother so I am asuming the grandfather will now have legal custody of the children and they will go to the school she wanted them to so all the gov't is doing in this case is making tax payers pay for her to be jailed... stupid stupid stupid!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah, right.

      Grandpa may not be able to keep them. He's up on felony charges, too. He was lying to get disability benefits. Seems this type of behavior runs in the family.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Anonymous

    Pretty stupid since most districts will allow transfers if they have room but it's always on a first come, first served basis.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Elena

    'Her felony conviction will bar her from being licensed to teach in Ohio' that is the worst sentence anyone who has children and is struggling economically can get...do they not know how hard it is to raise children, work and go to school so you can set a good example for your children...

    January 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. shannon

    here in ontario, canada we are allowed to put our kids in any elementry school as long as we are willing to drive them to school. if we want our kids to take the school bus we have a choice of only a few schools that are located near our home. as for high school the kids are bused to any school of their choice even if it's over an hour away.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sister99

    The infamous Lebron came from Akron, Ohio and did not attend those fine schools he went to St Vincent St Mary, If the schools are that bad i thought they were to pass out vouchers to attend other districts. Another complete joke that this woman would be jailed. Now what she needs to do is move then what will they do.........

    January 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lisa

    Unreal- and then if she's convicted she'll throw away all her work at getting her degree to teach! God forbid she want her kids to have a shot. This is crap. Community service maybe, but jail time is ridiculous. Let's go after some real criminals shall we.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • legaleagle1

      She's already been convicted. This article is reporting on her sentence. 5 years in prison, all but 10 days suspended. And that means she's also already lost her ability to get a teaching license in Ohio. I hope the judge on appeal shows more mercy and sense.

      January 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Scribe

    It's one thing if the school doesn't allow her to enroll or if this is a civil court, but it's completely wrong that taxpayer are paying the court system to pursue this. We pay them to investigate real criminals, but because they get salaries from our tax so they don't have to perform. Google average salaries for judges and ask yourself if you get what you paid for. Race is irrelevant - if he/she were white, I would still say the same. I'm an Asian btw.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    I stand behind the poor woman, Ohio is putting her up as an example and they sure picked the wrong lady for that.

    It's all about the money, just like with the Health Care argument. A doctor has to spend $300,000 to $500,000 to get through college and medical school, including paying for expenses, all the while earning little or nothing, Then when they go into business their malpractice insurance is astronomical. Then people ask why they have to pay $100 or $200 for a doctor visit.

    If you want cheap health care, reduce the cost of becoming AND being a doctor. If you want to pay more for better education, the money HAS to come from somewhere or people have to jump in and help out. The US Government can print all the money it wants but in the end WE pay the cost for fiat cash as interest on the national debt or inflation, take your pick.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • tickmich

      I'm seeing this more of another way the government can take money from us. If she had gave her father temporary custody of the children which will cost her money, this wouldn't be in the news.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eric

    This kind of stuff goes on in every state in the country. If I had a child of school age, and I had family in a better district, I would do the same thing. My parents had me stay at my grandmother's house in high school so I could go to a better, safer school. This lady did nothing wrong and certainly nothing that qualifies as a felony that will prevent her from getting a job that will better her life and that of her family.

    They need to be look for real criminals out there in Ohio.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jennifer

    This is ridiculous. I really dont see the crime here. This mother was doing what was best for her children, while trying to work hard and get an education herself. I know how hard it is to raise chiildren as a single parent, work, and go to school. She should be commended for her hard work, instead of having everything she has worked for taken away. Now her college education is for not, because she chose to give her children a better education. Why is isnt the city of Akron holding their schools to higher standards? Why are those teachers not being reprimanded? I can say this...if you were to remove all the "out of district" students from some of the schools around here....the halls would be half empty. Im sure everyone would rather pay to put a concerned single parent behind bars, away from their children, rather than save room and money for the real criminals. (hint of sarcasm)

    January 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. strangerswithkandi

    I am absolutely appalled that the school district would take this case this far. If the difference in success between the two schools is that great, then what does that say about the school district. They want to set her children up for failure, and they are willing to take away any means she has at helping her children succeed or building a better life for herself. I hope she finishes her degree and is able to get licensed to teach in another state, so she can be a strong example of what it means to succeed, and that is she is able to provide other students, with the opportunities that the Akron school district was so willing to take away.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
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