The Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended against clemency for a mother who lied about her residency so her children could attend school tuition-free in another district.
Kelley Williams-Bolar admitted in a July hearing that she was wrong to enroll her two daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn school district from under her father's address while she lived in subsidized housing in Akron. She claimed she did so because she did not want to leave her daughters home alone after school while she was attending classes at The University of Akron, fearing for their safety after a 2006 burglary.
The eight-panel board concluded that she could have investigated other options, such as looking at other districts, asking friends or neighbors to babysit, or actually moving into her parents' home. Instead, she chose "a pattern of deceitful behavior," the Board wrote in its clemency report, released Friday.
"Ms. Williams-Bolar was faced with a no more difficult situation than any other working parent who must ensure that their children are safe during, before and after school hours in their absence," it said in its ruling. "Most parents find legitimate and legal options to address this issue. Ms. Williams-Bolar's only response was to be deceitful."
The recommendation goes on to Gov. John Kasich, who expressed sympathy for Williams-Bolar earlier this year after her sentencing.
"Although we are disappointed with the Parole Board's recommendation, we remain confident that justice will ultimately prevail," Williams-Bolar's lawyer, David Singleton, said. "The Governor, not the Parole Board, has the last word on Kelley's clemency petition."
A Summit County jury convicted Williams-Bolar in January of two felony counts of tampering with records. She was sentenced to a five-year suspended sentence and two years of community supervision.
The case drew nationwide attention nationwide, raising debate about equal access to quality education and allegations of selective prosecution.
Opinion: Mom jailed for sending kids to school wanted a choice
But Williams-Bolar had no complaints about the education her children were receiving in the Akron City School District, the Board wrote in its decision, citing arguments from Williams-Bolar's attorneys.
"This was not a case about race or civil rights and Ms. Williams-Bolar has never made this claim," according to the clemency report. "This is a case where Ms. Williams-Bolar was worried about the safety of her daughters, and has been severely punished, and the collateral consequences will be devastating for her future."
Williams-Bolar wrote in her application for clemency that the felony convictions would prevent her from obtaining a license in teaching or social work, which she has been working toward on and off since 1988.
She told the Board she was not sure when she would go back to college, and ultimately acknowledged that she has to raise her GPA before can gain entry into a school of education, according to the clemency report.
She has been able to keep her position with the Akron Public Schools as a teacher's assistant, but her attorney stated that her employment is contingent upon the outcome of her appeals and the clemency decision, according to the report. She also has been able to maintain her residence with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.
Prosecutors claimed that Williams-Bolar had plenty of time and opportunity to end her deceptions before she was indicted in October 2009 trial. Instead, she continued to "fight and build on her deceptions," the Board wrote.
Williams-Bolar told the Board that while she continues to reside at the Hartford Avenue address in Akron, she used her father’s address when she renewed her driver’s license a few weeks before the July clemency hearing.
"She does not seem to understand nor accept the fact that the Black Pond address is not her legal residence, when she has resided and continues to reside at the Hartford Avenue address," the Board wrote.
Gov. Kasich does not have to follow the Board's recommendation. Days after taking office, he launched an inquiry into the case and asked the parole board to review it.
"Karen and I work hard to make a better future for our girls so when I first heard about Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar’s case last week it really struck me, as it has many other people," he said in February, according to the Beacon Journal.
"Our laws exist for a reason and they must be enforced, but the idea that a woman would become a convicted felon for wanting a better future for her children is something that has rightly raised a lot of concern with people, including me."
this is ridiculous, this woman did nothing wrong whatsoever! instead the city choose to waiste tax payers money by taking this to court....I stand by what she did. I don't however believe that this is a felony! Someone somewhere just wanted to make an example of her!
If they decided to make an example out of her, it's an example to others like her that they DESERVE a felony conviction on their record, which would bar them from becoming an educator or social worker. What sort of example would people like this set? A crappy one, that's what!
You can stand by her all you want...right next to the can on garbage day!
She lied to steal and that's not wrong? She's a leach. Glad they busted her, now nail the rest of the parasites in this land of parasites. Many of whom haven't had a family member actually be a productive member of society in generations!
@Dan and Wilma – She pays taxes no? How is it stealing? Did you know her Dad pays Fairlawn taxes, how is his money towards the Fairlawn school district less valid than hers in the Akron school district? Did you know Fairlawn spends 3k per child -less- than Akron? If its really about money then why are the grandparents paying for kids they don't have? Ultimately, they've spent more money litigating a hand wringing over where a child should get their education that it is worth all over semantics. Their family whether or not you like it, pays taxes for childrens education in both places, one is no more valid than the other.
Public schools are public schools... If the father lived in the other district he is paying taxes & the kids have a right to go there. Akron is worried that more parents would move to a better district & they would have to close schools... they would lose a lot of tax dollars from the Federal government. Follow the money & find the truth.
this is just another selfish person taking advantage of the system, she wanted a better school in a better neighborhood, but still wanted to get the benefits of the housing. What she did is wrong, deceit is deceit is deceit no matter how you look at it. What....its ok she did wrong because.......? There is no good answer SHE DID WRONG, all she did was teach her children, that she was so worried about their safety, was its ok to be deceitful and lie. If all she wanted was the safety of her children then move to the address that she was using. She wanted more than their safety, she wanted her cake and eat it too.
We should be careful to judge our fellow human, Whatever was the driving force behind the choices this mother made, is a felony really the answer, maybe there's a greater issue going on here, although society is'nt responsible for her choice to become a mother, planned or unplanned, we defintely should pay attention to what consequences are being thrown out, it could set precendent, for even lesser acts of deciet or lawbreaking, I understand community service, but a felony, I dont get it.
OK, so does this mean that all the illegal aliens in this country, or at least those whose kids are attending our public schools for free, will be rounded up and jailed or deported??? Oh, of course not. People in the country illegally aren't "deceitful," they're just trying to do the best they can for themselves and their kids. JUST LIKE THIS LADY! Our government officials are a bunch of HYPOCRITES.
This is so commonplace where I live, it's not even funny. If they arrested all of the parents who lie about their addresses, the jail would be full. One lady has allowed four separate families to use her address. How's that for honesty?
"...she has been working toward on and off since 1988"
Wow, she must have 8 or 9 doctorate degrees by now.
How does registering her children in another school district keep them safe? Did I miss something in the article?
I thought it was pretty clear that the school district had after school care available, where her real district didn't. That or the kids could go to their grandfather's house after school.
I was once a single parent and relied on my parents for support in raising my kids. I was a part time student at a local community college and had a full time job. And most of the time my schedule did not go well with my two kids who attended two different schools. both my kids were under the age of 8 years old. Not quite the age you leave unsupervised. so my parents stepped in and we had to basically do the same thing this woman did. So my question to the public is it better to leave kids unsupervised or know they are in the same area where your parents can pick them up??? Now i have my education and happily married and am a contributing member of this society.
So jflo218 now your a contributing member of society? What were you before when you were being deceitful and lying about where you live? If it wasn't a crime to do that then why have school districts at all? Just let everyone pick where they want there kids to go to school no matter where they live. Do you see that working?
Your tone suggests that this would be a bad thing. If the parents can get their children there, then why shouldn't any public school be available to them, regardless of where they actually live?
Alyssa, because you pay taxes to a certain school district. You cannot just choose where your kids go to school because there would be no room in the more accomplished schools, and the less accomplished schools would be empty. I do not however see a problem with what this woman did, since the children's grandparents pay taxes to the school they were going to. It is ridiculous that this would be a felony.
if she were white this wouldn't even be an issue. well done america denying poor children a good education kudos!
Really? What evidence in this case says it's all happening because she's not white? She's not even alleging this is happening because she's black.
You're an idiot for your terrible grammar and punctuation.
Oh, yeah, and for equating 'black' with 'poor'. Before you start whipping out the race card, go dunk your head in the toilet for being the racist you are.
there's a special place in hell for people who can't understand why this woman did what she had to do for her children.
I feel sorry for her. At the same time, I also agree on the punishment. She wants to be a teacher and yet she lied. Teachers are supposed to be example for the students. However, teachers are here to teach, but to preach. Maybe she can pay back the tuition fee?
Wait, lying should come with a felony conviction?? Do you understand what they does? She now has to report that on every job application, which now makes it that much harder for her to get a job. So she and her girls slip a little further into poverty. She did this for her kids. This doesn't merit a felony conviction.
She works at Akron public schools and uses Akron subsidized housing. But sent her kids to Copley-Fairlawn.
She was crazy enough to believe that none of her co-workers would notice or call her out? Duh.
If this was about safety, she would move to another federal funded housing project.
Government funded job, government funded housing, government funded college education. With all that, she steals government funded education for her kids. HOW MANY HAND-OUTS DID SHE NEED??
Her motivation was greed, her crime was theft.
You sound jealous.
Or maybe just stupid, I mix those two up an awful lot.
I am the divorced mother of two young daughters. I lived in a horrid neighborhood in the inner city and my girls attended school with children that were little more than animals in people clothes. I wanted them to attend a nicer school, but if breaking the law was the only way to do it, then either I'd have to move to a better district or comply with the rules where I lived or go through the proper channels to request that they be transferred. In some cases you can transfer if your children have grades that merit it, particularly if the school you wish for them to attend is a magnet school. How many mothers out there are in the same boat yet don't lie and manipulate? How many families live just across the line and their kids must attend the school with the ghetto kids instead of their neighbors? Is our system messed up? Maybe, but this woman is not the poster child for the cause. Pick someone who has tried to get their children transferred through every legal means, then failed, then takes their case to the courts, but not someone who lies, manipulates and then incurs a sentence. And let's not even begin to pretend that this is Ghandi style civil disobedience, or that the matter here is race. Rather than go through the legit battle to move her kids, she chose a an easier but dishonest path.
The father lives in the Copley-Fairlawn district.... Those kids have a right to go to that school becasue he is paying school taxes for the district. Akron is just protecting the money they get from the Federal Government... They don't want other familes to follow suit & force Akron to close schools & lose taxpayer $$. Follow the money & find the truth.
This country was built on lies and deceit. Moral of the story is don't let people know your buisness.
Wouldn't it be better to just write her like a $5 ticket for enrolling her kid in the wrong school? I think a felony is a little extreme!
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