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. TaxPayer

    Why is it that some would applaud this woman for breaking the law? While the graduation statistics are alarming in low-income areas, there are many success stories.....I wonder if it has to do more with the dedication of some parents who actually take on the responsibility of guiding their children through life...rather than asking the government, teachers and tax payers to do it for you. So, let's illegally register in another town to get kids a better education..if it's so good, then why wouldn't you move there permanently???? Ah...that's right. The government freebies.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      What freebies? The grandfather is paying property and school taxes. There is NO freebie going on here. If the kids are living there during the week or more than 50% of the time, he's got all the claim in the world.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • insane1

      You must have graduated from one of those low income area schools.
      Since you didn't read the entire article let me help you.
      Mom wants to send her kids to better school
      Mom has a father who live in an area which has good schools
      Mom sends her kids to live with her father who lives in an area which has good schools
      Moms father PAYS TAXES where he lives
      Someone at the school didnt like the idea so they had the mom sent to jail
      The judge was perhaps related to someone like you who sentenced the mom to prison for 5 years
      The mom can not better her life now since she can't obtain a teaching license
      But not to worry the judge throws her a bone he sends her to jail for 10 days instead
      THIS IS CALLED JUSTICE (Sarcastic)
      Even somene like you should be able to understand this
      Have a great day

      January 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bisqueen23

    Apparently there are no other crimes being committed in Ohio that a Mother wanted a better life for her children. Now, with, a felony conviction, she cannot use her own education to better her life the the lives of her children. This white women knows damn well that the only reason this wonderful woman and mother was charged and convicted of this crime??? is that she is African American. You cannot convice me otherwise. I thank God I do not have to live in Ohio and hopefully never have to drive through that state.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cuzkate

    You have got to be funning me. IN JAIL?? We really are a stinky bunch at times(this one)

    January 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sophistocat

      wanna SEE how STINKY we ARE ? *COLLATERAL MURDER * see it it the we (USA) MURDER news Media and Children and EXPLAIN IT TO YOU !! duhh Wake UP you are living in NAZI GERMANY now !!

      January 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. km2011

    If the grandparent had five grownup children living in neibouring bad school district. Can he send two, three grandchildren from each of his child (totally about 10-15) to the good school district because he is paying his share of the property tax? because the grand children have a right to live with their grandparents?

    January 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • tim

      what's the difference between what she did & all the illegal aliens are doing probably in your own school district that you're footing the bill for??

      January 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lauren

    Brian Poe, the superintendent who funded the investigation can be contacted at 330-664-4801 or What that school district did was outrageous. Contact him and let him know how you feel .

    January 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Melinda

    Parents need to do "what they ahve to" to help their children, and have had to for decades. I applaud this woman and plea for the ACLU to take her case!! She should not at all have a felony on her record for this! The state and it's school district are hurting for $$ and they want to make up the difference from this mother.
    In the 1970's my mom had to use a fake address to get me into a better high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I am white, Jewish, and was kind of geeky. Only the minority kids could request, and get, a transfer to another school other than where they were "districted" for. When the transgression was discovered during my senior year, with about 6 months to go, the school let me stay. We were within the LAUSD boundaries and my mom was a tax-payer. The $$ collected from property taxes goes to Sacramento and then is returned to the local school districts and then allocated per pupil per day of attendance at the school of enrollment.
    They now have a system where you can request a different school so your kids are closer to where you work, or where you need/want to have childcare options.
    So, in Ms. Williams-Bolars case, her father is a payor of property taxes in the district she enrolled her kids in. The Akron district, however, did not receive money it would have gotten for the attendance by her kids, even though she does not pay property taxes. If she'd had the means to enroll them in private school then the Akron district would not received $$ but wouldn't be able to concoct a means to sue
    This really comes down to a matter of lost $$, not race, for a school district that has probably mismanaged funds for decades and is trying to make up the difference $30 K at a time. However, that's not to say that a judge would NOT have made this a felony for a caucasian person.
    I wish Ms. Williams-Bolars and her children the best! I hope that her kids continuously get straight A's!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • tickmich

      but melinda, you're missing the key word here tuition? What damn tuition?! Most schools you can't go if you don't pay tuition! Her father who has no kids going to the district is giving it to his grand children. They throw the word tuition in to cloud that this case reeks of racism

      January 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. netcatm

    Maybe she should have stayed in her own district and gone on welfare while forcing her children to go to the more dangerous school where they apparently belong and just be satisfied with the education they receive. Instead this woman is doing everything she can to better herself and her children and now she's being punished for it. How is that even fair?

    If the government wants to interfere in school education why not allow parents choose which school they want their child and their tax dollars to go to.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah, right.

      You're not far off. She stated the kids were living with her so she could get subsidized housing. The said they were living with her father so they could go to the other school.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Realthoughts

    iIs it that easy for the ignorant to go to RACE everytime.!!??!! All it shows is the lack of a education and understanding of todays social psyche. Blacks need to stop crying foul all the time when others deal with the same issues everyday with out sobbing over it........ Stop acting like the entire U.S. (whites mainly) are against you, and maybe, just maybe you will realize the gravity of your ridiculous statements.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. brad

    What can you expect from a state whose biggest university prides itself in being able to spell Ohio.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian

    I started reading this article with a great distaste in my mouth. But as I went on, my feeling changed a bit. Not enough to put the woman into jail. But enough to realize that there is a larger problem. I would call it the 'slippery slope' problem. Sure, this woman was trying to help he kids get a better education. That is commendable. Then comes the slippery slope. How many others in Akron have a relative in the nearby district? And how many get to make this little white lie? Is 2 the limit? or is it 10? or is it 200? School districts all over the country are havivg a problem affording paper and pencils. So while a pair of kids snuck in will likely not kill the district, what happens when every parent in her building finds out, and does the same thing?

    Something about the story is a bit suspect. The kids live with the grandfather 100% of the time. And the mother lives there at least 50% of the time? Why not just move in full time? Or is that story perhaps not 100% true? It also sounds like the district made several attempts to point out the problem, and she simply did not listen. Reading the article, the reality does not seem like police storm troopers broke down the door, making the family unaware victims of brutality.

    All our schools should be equal. All should be a lot better than they are. And I am quite sure that this mother wanted the very best for her children. But rules are in place for reasons. They are not always racist in intent. And everyone needs to follow the rules equally. She did not. A compassionate judge would have found a way to make it a misdemeanor, so that she could get her teaching license. But without some sort of deterrent, what is to stop 2000 other caring mothers from trying this, tomorrow?

    January 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TaxPayer

    For all the race card players who blame the Akron educational system, you could do a simple Google search and get the facts:

    According to this, the 53% of white students (versus 39% black) should then be permitted to do the same?

    January 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Melina - AZ

    Here in AZ, at least Metro Phoenix we have open enrollment. Parents have the opportunity to enroll their kids in districts they would not otherwise attend. Believe it or not, most kids still go to their neighborhood schools. I agree she should not be punished for what she did; especially if the kids live with their grandfather. I am wondering why the issue of taxes is even coming up. In AZ our property taxes are used for the schools, I suspect that is the case there. There are plenty of people in my kid's district who don't pay taxes because they don't own homes. Many people live in apartments and thus don't pay property taxes. Are they also wrong in letting their kids attend a school they are not paying taxes for? It's silly that they would prevent this woman from teaching because of something like this. If it's that big of an issue, put the kids in the correct school and move on. Divorced couples play the address game with their kids all the time. This is a waste of time and money.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • DDoc

      That's b/c all of AZ has open enrollment. In our state if you go to a different school then assigned your distrct will pay that district the state and local tuition money. Apartment dwellers in many states pay a renters tax. That aside, apartment rents are a combination of the owner's costs (mortgage, taxes... property taxes, repairs etc.) bundled together. So they are paying it indirectly. Even if you rent a house you are indirectly paying property taxes.
      But I agree we do not hear the whole story only the condensed sensationalized version of it. You either live with your grandpa or you live with your Ma. Just like when you pay your income tax. The child is assigned to a primary address. The sentence is ridiculously out of proportion-I agree, and wish it weren't a felony to haunt her forever. But the crime isn't sending your kid to the wrong school, it's lying on forms and other types of fraud.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. June

    The money wasted!!! to take her to court could have been spent on that school she was trying to keep her kids out of. To not let this mother graduate and teach in Ohio is absolutely ludicrous. As a great mother, she would most likely be a great teacher. Shame on you Copley Fairlawn School District !!!!!!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. km2011

    She is busted for taking advantage of tax paying residents of a school district (good school or bad) and not contributing tax to that district.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      Her father is paying those property & school taxes, idiot.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pgeo

    Is anyone else appalled that the school district has enough money to send people out to video tape and follow parents and students to see if they really live in the district, while other schools can’t even afford text books? I live in Ohio too and I am trying to find a good school for my child. When the time comes if I have to borrow a friends address to get her into a good school with more than a 20% graduation rate and 47% proficiency rating (which is what Cleveland schools have) you better believe I will. A few days in jail for me are nothing compared to dooming my child to a life of illiteracy and failure. Shame on Copley Township and the state of Ohio.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
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