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. Josh

    This is crazy! The jury should be ashamed of themselves for agreeing to convict her!!!!

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

    You must be kidding....a parent who is very involved in her children's education, kids are enrolled in Granddad's school district (keep in mind he's paying taxes to support schools) and she's jailed for this?!?!? Maybe community service for her "crime" but jail time is totally outrageous. Who should be sitting in jail are the prosecutor, the judge and the jury members who found this to be a jail-time crime!

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

      You should read the story again. How involved is she in her kid's education when they spend nearly 100% of their time at Grandma's house?

      January 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. molly

    this is absolutely ridiculous. if her children's father lives in the district, and they spend time there, I don't see how this is illegal. this poor woman was just trying to do what is best for her kids. Shame on the people prosecuting her.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LisaFromLA

    To those people who participated in her conviction: Laws are policies created in order to provide the greatest good for the greatest number, correct? We set up these policies in order to achieve our purposes. Therefore, one can see that the purpose of the law is more important than the policies. Do you really believe that you are achieving the purpose of "the greatest good for the greatest number" by this conviction? If so, please explain how. In light of one half her dual household sitting squarely within the Copley-Fairlawn school district, this conviction seems irrational and vindictive.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ruth-Texas

    This happens all the time in the little town I live in. The parents that do this never get caught or prosecuted. I think there is more to this story than what is in black and white!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Supurbia

    Two jokes in one story – the Education System and the Justice System.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mmmmm

    Ohio and its governor have much to account for. Do not bother America with your next spring flood are so sickening and are so wrong!

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

    I have seen an heard a lot of things in my fifty years of living and this has to be the most RIDICULOUS, RACIST & INSANE thing I have ever heard.


    January 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rosemary

    This is a horrible miscarriage of justice. She never should have been charged with a crime, let alone a felony. The judge in this case should be removed from the bench and the prosecuting attorney fired.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Why not?

      @Rosemary, the judge didn't convict her. A jury did. In fact, the judge was extremely lenient in sentencing. She could've gotten several years.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    Jeeze, the woman had listed the children as living with her to get subsidized housing so she's already got one hand in Uncle Sam's pocket. Then she goes and signs her children up in a school district 45 minutes away and lists their residence as living with her father so they could go to that district. There were 30 to 40 people the school busted for this and they told them to either take the students out of class or pay tuition to avoid prosecution. EVERY ONE of them except for her took this way out so please put the race cards away. Instead of taking their offer she chose to deny that she did anything wrong and decided to change her address on her license to that of her father's house and then accuse the school district of harassment. The district hired a PI to follow her for more than 2 weeks collecting a ton of evidence that she was driving her kids from her house (45 mins away) to the bus stop.
    Even if her story were true, she still was committing Section 8 fraud by claiming the children lived with her to the housing dept.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • DDoc

      Well said and informed. They didn't single one person out. She had her chance. Should print the whole story or not at all.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JEB

    I hate when schools do this crud. I had to transfer to a different High School after being at one for 2 years. My mother owned and paid taxes in all 3 districts in the city but the truant officer did a check of our home residence listed and found our renters there instead. Such B.S.!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David

    Free Williams-Bolar! God forbid a woman should want better than for her childrent to attend lousy schools. So much for the equality of public schools. I applaud her and hope she comes out of this without having to spend any time in jail.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hooray!

      Congratulations! She reeled you in with her sob story. There's a lot of information missing here. You may want to do a little more research on what was going on here.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gail

    OMG! Seriously! Yeah, let’s go after the real criminals in this country. Unbelievable! Maybe the education department in Ohio should close that school since it can only pass 4 of the 26 standards. What kind of a fighting chance are we giving our children with this example. If the Department of Education cannot at least give the students a decent education, they can at least let the parents try without fear of prison. What murderer is being released to make room for this mother who has now had any chance at providing a better life for herself or her children removed by our lovely court system. But hey let's give murderers and drug dealers a fabulous education and make people hire them when they come out. A little backwards is it? Wonder what our President would think about this. If I were her, I would take this all the way to the supreme court!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tammy

    "The Akron City school district met only four of 26 standards on the latest Ohio Department of Education Report Card"

    That is the true crime. Perhaps the money would be better spend on making schools better.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim P

    She is black and is trying to get a better education/life for her kids....So she needs to go to JAIL because it's the LAW. I thought we fought a civil war over things similiar to this. Isn't this why some black woman (Rosa Oarks?) wouldn't go to the back of the bus? Did they make Ohio so easy to spell because so many of their people are stupid?

    January 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
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