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. jended

    Why didn't they just kick the kids out and sue her for the tuition costs? The cost of tuition and jail is $36,000. Not to mention the costs of housing her now that she's an inmate. Additionally, the loss of taxes paid on her wages that she's not making because she's no longer employed. What should have been a civil matter has been prosecuted in Federal court. This is such a complete and total waste. It's disgusting. The US Education System is a joke. The US court system is a bigger joke. If you remove all of the emotion from this case and look at it purely from a financial perspective, the Fairlawn School District's best move would have been to pursue this case civilly, then they would have had some hope of recovering this lost tuition. Do you think that they're ever going to see a dime of that $30,000 now? Doubtful.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jended

      I meant the cost of tuition and court costs, not jail. And as another poster also pointed out. Now her father will have custody, since she's in jail, and the kids will be going to that school legally. Wow.

      January 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah, right.

      They tried to settle with her. She refused and had it taken to court.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Momtana 2011

    This is one of those head-shaking moments where you know that justice was not served. The punishment certainly did not fit the crime! She should certainly get into some trouble for falsifying records – community service, a moderate fine – but a FELONY conviction is beyond ridiculous! And to lose her chance to become a teacher is even more disturbing! She was doing something most parents all do – get their children a better education so that they have better opportunities in life.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shay

      I completely agree

      January 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah, right.

      It was a felony because of the cost of the services rendered. The DA doesn't just look at a case and say "Hey! I think I'll go for a felony conviction!' There are criteria that have to be met.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TaxPayer

    Clearly many of the authors on this comment board who are not homeowners who pay real estate taxes and have not had the education of their children compromised by individuals who illegally register their children in other school districts. This is an issue that occurred in my hometown where children from another state were commuting into our town by bus – stealing services from our town – at the expense of the tax payers. If you really want your children to have a better education in another school district, then why would you not follow a legal course of action and rent an apartment within the school district? It is just another example of how people want to use the system to their benefit, at the sole expense of others then people cry racism.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jended

      I think that most people are appalled by the manner in which they pursued the case. I am a homeowner as well and I understand your point and agree that this type of behavior should be stopped and that the school district has every right to recover their money. I don't believe that this should have been pursued criminally. It should have been pursued civilly. They should have sued her for back tuition and had her kids removed from the district using a court order. What does putting this woman in jail do?

      January 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Orin

      I am a homeowner and I am fine for my taxes to help someone get out of poverty and contribute to society even if they are not paying taxes as well to my area. I am positive I have benefited at times in my life when I didn't pay for that benefit, and I am sure she would have been able to benefit others when she started paying taxes on her teacher salary.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • TaxPayer

      It's pretty evident that going after the woman on a civil basis would not lead to any type of recovery – if she was receiving a free government apartment do you really think that she would pay back $36,000...she would have told the court that she has no money or declared bankruptcy. While the district won't likely recover one penny anyway, incarceration will send a very clear message to others who look to benefit on the wallets of others.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned angel

      Nice point but it shouldn't matter. Texas is huge and we have all kinds of people going to the same school getting their education not to be mean or anything but really they messed with someones life and guess what now cause she can't use her education to better herself our tax dollars will have to come in place for her being on foodstamps or welfare.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      They did try to pursue it without bringing criminal charges. The woman wouldn't work with them and pushed it to trial because she thought a jury wouldn't convict her and she'd get off without any penalties and be able to continue to send her children to the wrong district at the expense of the taxpayers there.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TaxPayer

    Momtana 2011 – the theft of goods or services exceeding $1,000 is a felony. She cost that town over $30,000 so what good is a small fine going to do for the people who have their homeowner's taxes increased each year to pay for kids who shouldn't be there in the first place. She should be forced to repay every penny to the town before her record can be expunged.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shay

    I cannot believe that she got in trouble for this. She just wanted a safer place for her children. This is not the last we are going to hear of this.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • TCB1

      Where's Gloria Allred the publicity monger now? Come out Gloria, you'll be a SHE-Roe and you'll win! Come on! Let's Go!

      January 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AManda

    How sad that someone was trying to do better for their children WITHOUT hurting someone else and now is facing such harsh repercussions. I do not agree with it. She is trying to pull herself and her children up & receive a better education, for this she gets punished. Is there not more serious crimes out there??

    January 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SoCal

    I live in San Diego area and my wife is an educator at an elementary school in the souther part of the county. At least 1/3 of the cars that pick kids up after school have Baja plates, they turn south and head straight to TJ after picking the kids up. I'm sure some are legit but I seriously doubt the majority of their parents are paying into the California tax base funding our schools. At least this lady is a US citizen and is doing her best for her kids.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LightOne

    Punishment is WAY too harsh for the crime. What she did, others do all the time. When I moved and wanted to keep my son in the same school I had about a half dozen people offer to let me use their address. I had no idea people actually did that but it's pretty common.

    While I was comfortable transferring my son to the school we were in the boundary of, if I had ANY concerns I'd sure be tempted to do the exact same thing she did.

    Jail time + fine + probation + taking away her ability to become licensed and work in her field in her state... Because she wanted her kids to have a safer and better education? Come on!!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Seriously?

    Does Ohio not have any real crimes to deal with?

    January 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • TaxPayer

      If someone stole $36,000 from you, I'm sure you would have the police all over it.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guy Parent

      American question: How much do you worth? American answer: depends on the district.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. U-No

    So...a mother wants her children to have a better education and because the government cannot deliver on that - SHE is punished?? What hypocrisy. And really sad that the children lose on ALL fronts.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TCB1

    Wow.....this is the most appalling load of crap I have ever heard!! This needs to be overturned right now!! What about the kids.....no fault of their own, who are here illegally sucking up space in the classrooms? Are their parents going to jail for being here illegally first and 10 more years for falsifying school board records? Did you see the test scores of the school in their neighborhood? They should be shut down for sub-standard work on a consistent basis. What the hell are they doing with the money they get? The judge needs to be tossed in jail for making such and ignorant ruling!!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ruthie

    Oh, come on Ohio...You're really gonna punish a woman for wanting her children to go to a better school. Where are your priorities???? This sounds like something more than just out of district school attendance. If the school in her district wants the money, then they should do all they can to upgrade their teaching practices. 4 out of 26 standards and a 76% graduation rate is abysmal!!! I woun't send my kids there either!! What do they expect? Do they really expect all parents to be satisfied with those rates without question and without doing something about it? I say kudo's to Miss Kelley and would encourage more parents to to the same...maybe then the school district will do something about those low, low rates!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. acsc1966

    What the heck is wrong with everyone involved in this fiasco? It cost way more to hold this trial than the taxes due. The mother should have paid the taxes or sorted her mailing address/primary address to her fathers home. How will she pay the taxes fpr the school district her kids are in when she is in jail and will be unable to find employment after her time? This is the ultimate abuse of power by the school district, the attorney's office and the judge and jury. Her lawyer should be reviewed for competency, no way this should have got to this point.
    The shame of it is the main people here getting screwed are the kids!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaydeegrrrl

      She wasn't willing to make her father's house her "primary residence" because then she would not have been eligible for government subsidized housing. All she had to do was give the housing to someone less fortunate and move in with her father and her kids would have gotten a great education.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. iammacha

    To everyone who believes this woman is being unfairly penalized please email the Department of Justice at AskDOJ@usdoj.gov to try and get her some help and to get standards for schools changed. I don't understand how they can allow children to attend a school that only meets 4 of 26 standards!! Third world countries offer comparable education as this!!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MorbidMG

    It is my opinion that the only crime here is the poor standards of the school the girls were supposed to attend. The mother did not do anything that I wouldn’t do for my children. It is a shame that she was convicted, spent any time in jail, do community service, and will not be able to teach when she is finished with her degree.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
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