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. David

    To put someone in jail for this! I thought we had murders and other more important criminal to lock up. Did not realize they had the jail space for a Mother trying to better her childreds education. I would like to say unbelieveable but, it's not, our priorities are all mixed up!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sara

    the kids were possibly gang bangers already corrupted by the ghetto neighborhood, and putting them in a school with kids that arent corrupted pbviously stuck out like a sore thumb. and they wanted them out. do you guys really think if these were nice kids that dressed well and fit in, that anyone would've even noticed? and the fact the school went out of their way to get them out just solidifies this fact. she shouldnt have picked a ghetto in the first place now its going to be a toughroad ahead trying to get the ghetto out of those kids if its not too late

    January 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarita

      Your assumptions are without citations or facts, so I'm assuming you're just a horrible, small person, who sees the joy in the pain of others. May karma find you and knock you down a peg.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • E Segonza

      What? Are you being serious? Am I being punk'd? My!, how blog anonymity emboldens a person to say intensely OUTRAGEOUS things! I don't know whether to react to your post with tears or laughter ... As I read it, two sayings came to mind: "Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt" and "In much [of your] talking (in this case, blogging), thinking is half murdered." Please, no more.

      January 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Janett

    Races, was a big part. I'm Hispanic and I see it everywhere. very sad. I think as citizens and tax payers we should decide our childrens education. If she used the father's address it should be fine. School District went to extreme majors on this family that wanted a better education for her children. Shame on you for wasting tax payers money on something that could of been handled in a different way. I don't think she is a criminal for probation she is a hero for wanting good for her kids. Real criminals should be in jail or serving probation. You go Mom., I would have done the samething.

    January 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. larry

    Such utter malfeasance and breach of sound jurisprudence. You're going to be seeing more of this insanity; where the so-called legal community is itself the purveyor of societal destruction. Just reading about it will make you physically ill!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Keith

    This is insane! Prison?, Craig from Akron you're an idiot! I know people that do this same thing both white and black. Moving from an area to the next is easier said than done. In fact, I know of a white family doing the same thing right now, they are using their business address as their home address so that their daughter can go to a better school. If they are going to convict her like that, they should do a sweep in all states and prosecute to the full extent of the law or is that too expensive?

    January 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TaraK

    She says she was doing it for the good of her children. If she was stealing clothes or food for the good of her children would that be okay, too? Where is the line? Stealing is wrong, be it clothes, food or education.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Akimofro

      Stealing is wrong, except that she didn't steal anything. She "lied" on the paperwork to get her children into a better school. You know, deep down, if you had to, for your children, you would do it too...and that includes stealing.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Retired

    Just 12 credits away from earning a teaching degree at the University of Akron...and now a felony conviction.
    There had to be a better solution to this!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • mruriah

      In several of the articles I've read about this on other sites, they quote the judge as saying that is part of her punishment.

      From the AOL News article:

      But the judge said as of now, she can't become a teacher.

      "Because of the felony conviction, you will not be allowed to get your teaching degree under Ohio law as it stands today," the judge said. "The court's taking into consideration that is also a punishment that you will have to serve."

      January 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mruriah

    What I don't understand is how they're saying the grandfather didn't pay those taxes. Do taxes in Ohio vary by number of children per household? It makes no sense to me. I realize different states have different laws, but in the three states I've lived, public schools were PUBLIC, period, end of story. I never had to pay "tuition" to attend a public school. Paying a tuition = private school. This school shouldn't be allowed to choose which it's going to be.

    And what about the money they could be spending on books, computers, TEACHERS, that they're just throwing away on inane investigations such as this?

    January 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert

    I'm white American and know a lot of white people who do the same thing in the states. This is a racial issue, and society issue. Education should be the same for everyone. I moved to Germany so my daughter could have a better education. We all just want the best for our kids.

    If you have never lived in Oakland or some other enslaved city of the poor and trapped. Then you will never know.

    Another point: Ironically, now that the mother is in prison, won't the kids be staying at the Father's house anyway. So now it's legal for them to go to school.

    Can we please stop kicking the poor and lend them a hand.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex White

    If she robbed your house and paid for her kids school, she would still have good intentions, but have broken the law as she did here.

    People keep pointing out that worse things are happening, so government and police should focus on those - so because one crime is worse than another, the lesser should be dismissed?

    She shouldnt be vilified, not keep a felony conviction, but she should not be lauded as a great mother only trying to improve her childrens lot. Why, if the kids do live with grandpa, in the proper district, does mom not? Not welcome? Kids dont actually live with gramps?

    January 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. soy sauce

    Ever think that this whole thing might have been avoided if the quality of schools were better? There should be no such thing as a "good" school district and a "bad" school district. ALL schools should be tended to equally to produce quality students and future generations. Instead, we jail concerned parents...something is seriously wrong here. America is clearly not the land of the free, never was, never will be.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. From Orlando FL

    This is such BS. racism at it's worse. and yes it is racist.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David

    the real criminal is the school that only met 4 out of 26 requirements. where is the accountability!?

    January 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Amy

    Apparently Ohio doesn't have schools of choice. She should have just moved in with her father and paid rent if her own neighborhood was that bad. The law is the law, so punishment has to follow, but the real culprit here is the state that passed the law. Shame on them.

    January 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rugbyball

    She should sue them for not meeting the standards of the other school district. It is all tax payers money she could say she has a right to get her child the best possible public education. If the school district she is in can't provide it, its up to the local school board to bring it up to par or allow busing. If her kids are failing in new school district fine send them back, but if they are doing well they should be allowed to stay.
    This woman was trying to do the best for her children, how many parents from projects even know how many kids they have let alone go the extra mile for them. sick!

    January 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
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