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. Aston

    By law, a child must attend school in the same district that the child's legal guardian lives and pays taxes. Even if the children stayed with their grandfather 300 days a year, they still must attend the school district in which their mother resides, unless she has given legal guardianship to her father.

    Affluence and better school districts go hand in hand. A good school district will have parents wanting to move there, which creates housing and jobs to support those living in the community. A high demand for housing will lift real estate prices. Taxes are tied to the value of real estate, and the school district receives more money, which then allows them to better the school district, and the cycle continues. The exact opposite occurs in poor performing districts.

    I applaud her for wanting better for her children, but it is not fair to expect the other district's taxpayers to foot the bill. If she wanted her children to attend the better school district, she should have made the necessary financial sacrifices so that she could afford the higher rents and taxes associated with the other school district.

    I'm glad to see that the school district removed these children from their district and returned them to the district which they belonged. And it is within their rights to demand fair compensation for the money they have spend educating them. But to convict the mother of a felony? One or both parties failed common sense. This issue should have never gone to court. Either the district decided to set an example or the mother dug in her heels and tried to get something for nothing.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Golden

      I absolutely agree. She wanted it both ways.. use the governement to get the assistance she needed by staying in Akron but she wanted her children to go to a better school system. That is not fair for all the parents who made the sacrifice by doing things the right way.

      January 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      You must be the bootlegging esquire advising those hags with your paralegal ponytail to agree. Bring it before a jury of her peers: hard working, going to school, raising families, single-parents and see how far your foolishness will go!

      January 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CT

    As an american she is jailed. If she was an illegal immigrant this wouldn't have been a problem.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • lford72

      B I N G O !

      January 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lford72

    Shouldn't the Akron district provide the same safe, successful educational opportunities as the Copley-Fairlawn district? There lies the real crime....mismanagement of tax dollars, as usual.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RJ

    Instead of sendind this lady to jail, send the person in charge of the Akron School District to jail! Jeez. If the district is so bad, I don't blame this woman for trying to get her kids a better education. Think of how many children the Akron school district is hurting! It's sad that she is so close to completing her teaching degree, and now wont be able to teach in Ohio. And with this felony conviction, may not be able to teach anywhere! That is just wrong!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. africa

    WOW JAIL FOR A BETTER EDUCATION WOW!! WHAT NEXT CHAINS???? DO YOU HEAR ME?? STAND UP

    January 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • gwats

      And JAIL for every thief out there!!

      January 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Snowden

    Wow. If they start checking addresses of strudents today a lot of parents will go down!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. enough

    This lady was trying to do good for her children. This is so wrong!! I moved, to a better school district for my children, to get them out of the area we were in. It was becomeing a sesspool of drugs and crime. After all that, they bussed them right back to that school. I said the heck with this state, picked up and moved to Idaho. Best discision I ever made. Too many laws, too little care.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Snowden

    How many people commenting today on this are guilty of doing the exact same thing?

    January 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chchch

    judge should be given a felony for abuse of power – this makes my stomach turn. So disgusting the over reaction and shame on the school district. How do people sleep at night.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rob

    The grandfather lives in the school district and gets nothing for the money he pays in school taxes so why shouldn't he be able to send his grandchildren there??

    January 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GalaxyGlued

    This is so sad! It's pretty clear to me that she broke the law but I don't see the punishment matching the crime at all. This is a good woman who wants the best for her kids, who is pursing an education for herself and this school board is going to ruin her? I don't know how these people sleep at night.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Deep

    So the message we get out of this is that we take our poor and take a giant dump on their aspirations. Than we wonder why the poor hate the rich. American dream is dead in places like these. The dangling carrot scenario of trying to keep the poor reaching for the prize while the whole game is rigged; this is the American dream now. A coward's action by the court to send her to jail.

    We have become SO DAMN obsessed with money all the damn time! So many people commenting on how the tax dollars are being defrauded if those kids are in a better school. Shameful. Absolutely disgusting. All those who think that those kids should be going to the crappy school because the taxes are being wrongly spent on them when they are at a better school should feel ashamed.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guy Parent

      Deep, you just got to the heart of the problem. As long as money will be the chief argument America will keep digging its Great Divide with pain on the poor and fear on the rich with anger and violence on both sides.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. Paul M

    I'm fairly sure that this will be overturned on appeal.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kelsie

    This is rediculous!! sending a woman to jail for 5 years, then giving her 3 years probation after she gets out just because she enrolled her kids in the wrong district?
    my dad knows people who's murdered people and didn't get it that rough.
    and besides, she might have not been paying the school taxes, but her father was paying them just because he lived there... so yes, the school was getting their money.
    and its sad to see what this country has come to... caring more about money than the education of our children. it makes me sick.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Snowden

    Not only has her life been ruined but the chances of her being able to help her children now are quite limited!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
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