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. Cara Aguirre

    This is crap. A woman who is trying to build a better life and give her children a chance to succeed... Any resposnible parent would have done the same. This school district needs to be investigated for wasting $6000 on investigating her. They should be ashamed of themselves!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Patricia

    This is ridiculous! The school system complains that parents aren't involved enough in their children's education yet when this mother tried to make sure her children obtained the best education possible, using a LEGITIMATE address of the grandfather, she is charged with a criminal offense?!? There some seriously crazy people out there and it certainly wasn't her! I think all charges should be dropped and the kids should be allowed to attend the school that their grandfather has been paying taxes to support. I can't believe this.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stacy

    This poor mother! Absolutely disgusting with they did to her and her children!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fuzznozzle

    This story is embarrassing, give that lady the Mom of the Year award.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    I'll bet if her children had been star athletes Copley would have been begging to keep them. Too bad all she wanted for her kids was a proper education.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nilsa

    Free Williams-Bolar!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Judy

    What a travesty! This has been going on for years in Florida in an effort by parents to enroll their children in better school districts they cannot afford. The punishment certainly doesn't fit the crime so there must be some hidden agenda. I think the law enforcers are the criminals in this case.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig from Akron

      What a bunch of idiots. Everyone thinks she's the victim here for trying to better her kids? If she stole $30,000 worth of clothes, cars and electronics would you let her off so easily? Boo-hoo! If you don't like the school in your area, move or home-school your kids. Don't try to blame the system or make it a race issue. She cheat tax payers, she cheated me out of my money!! I say send her back to jail right now!!

      January 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbie

      This is a true sense of what is really important to our law makers, we have baby killers that go untouched yet we send people to jail, waste our tax money and focus on BS! How stupid has our country become? We need to not spend our money on this type of $%#&. I remember when my cousins where in sports and the coach would let them use their address just so they could stay on a team. What happened to them...nothing...they are considered heros because their team won due to a very qualified player from another district. GEEZ...I am sick of reading this type of stuff! What a serious waste of resources and some stupid law maker with a chip on his/her shoulder. Find a new job or go after the people that really need to be behind bars.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbie

      BTW, I am white middle /upper class and see racism all over this one...someone below said it non-athlete. This stuff is breaking our hearts and confidence in the American Way! I fear for our safety and future here in our country. We are killing our own dreams and driving peoples earning abilities away. If you wink just right you'll never be employed ever again. I am going to give my prayers up for this family tonight. I read the news everyday and live a really nice life but this is just insane justice and horrible. We just paid more in taxes to put her in jail. I challenge you to look up how much it costs daily to house a person in jail, the loss of wages for that person and the cost of probation for however many years, including the idea that mom tried to make their lives better yet saw her suffer for trying. I guess we shouldn't try to better ourselves or this storry needs to be re-written with better facts.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Floyd

      @Bob, the children's father lives in the Copley-Fairlawn district. It seems the children have a legitimate connection to that district.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Floyd

      Scratch that. Her father, not the children's father. Never mind.

      She should move in with dad.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • TinKnight

      Craig...she cheated YOU out of your money? Really? By sending her kids to a better school system, where they might have a better chance of actually making something of themselves, earning a decent living, paying MORE money in taxes, and benefitting the entire system, she's somehow hurting the system and you specifically?

      Now that she's completely lost all chances of living her dream of having a decent living, due to being prohibited from teaching, do you really think that's going to help her children avoid issues for the rest of their lives?

      January 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I started reading this story with *no* sympathy toward her at all. But after learning that the kids' father is a taxpaying resident of the school district, I don't see that they did anything wrong. If a kid's parents live in different school districts then it should be up to the parents where they go to school. Where the kids live is between the parents and the divorce court – they kids don't pay taxes and their residence if of no concern to the school district.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Oops, I misread. HER father not the kids' father. Off to jail with her. Dirty thief.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen Davies

      I agree, that many police calls...heck I would move my kids to a better home and enroll them. The authorities didn't like it because the Mother took initiative and decided to actually do something about the situation. Good for her.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Young

      @ FLOYD: It was the GRANDFATHER that lived in the other town. That is stretching it a bit. As a public school teacher in an urban school district I can attest to this being a problem. We are a very poor district and have students coming from neighboring districts that are not performing as well and are in bad sections of the suburbs. It really puts a drain on the schools because you don't get funding if the kids don't live in your district. 30k is a lot of money and if you have multiple families taking advantage it can put the district under!

      January 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • chchch

      I so agree that the lying was wrong, but the truly disgusting behavoir was from the judge, school board, and prosecutor. Would the outcome had been a felony if this had been a white parent who had her son enroll in a different school to play football? Not an unheard of pratice and I challenge anyone to find a case where the parents were convicted of a felony. Why did the home school district not have to reimburse the cost of education services to educate the children in the school district that provided the service – after all taxes were collected in the home district and services were not used there? I am not following why money is considered to be stolen. Most of all I don't understand why simply disenolling the children did not end this matter, why did lives have to destroyed?

      January 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jayme

    this is so sad. our education is down and here's a mom wanting to better her children. i don't agree with her lying but... i'm speechless.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • lobo feroz

      its not lying when the laws are unjust.. God is not with our country, thank God..

      January 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • TinKnight

      lobo, it's still lying, regardless of the justness of the laws in question.
      Sometimes, lying is a good thing, like telling your pregnant wife that she doesn't look like a whale.
      More correctly, "it's not wrong if the law is unjust"...I'd agree with that statement. 🙂

      January 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Laws unjust? Kids whose parents pay higher taxes *should* get a better education. If you want your kids to have a better than federal-minimum-standard education, then pull out some cash and pay for it. Otherwise you're just a freeloader and you people are getting tiresome.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Monique

      I think you are so right. Children should have a great education so that they can earn a decent living. Why is it so wrong for a mother to give her children a decent and yet a fantastic living. Law makers are very bad people. They should be the ones who are behind bars.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      @ Matt, spoken like someone who has the money handy. My husband and I work our butts off everyday, and I'm trying to get my family into a better area, however, it just doesn't always work. People that pay higher taxes are just as equal to the people who pay lower taxes. I live in gov't housing, and I promise you, I'm better educated than the richer people in this area, because they don't care, because everything is handed to them. Life isn't fair, obviously, and it's especially unfair to punish someone who hasn't been able to fix their situation, but is trying for their kids.

      January 27, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    They are just making an example out of her. Thousands of people in the U.S. have done this for years. Nothing new. Some people can't afford to live in the best neighborhoods ,but they want a better future for their children. Mainly because they know the chances of their kid succeeding going to P.S. ( # whatever) in the ghetto, where teachers don't care as well as most kids is not that high. It's not just minorities I've seen people do this from all walks of life. Why not? Wouldn't you want to give your child every opportunity to succeed, I know I would.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    She gets jail fro enrolling her U.S. citizen children to a wrong school, but it's okay for illegal aliens to enroll their illegal children in the wrong school, in the wrong country???? I DON'T GET IT.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      You are so right. It just doesn't make sense.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robo

      Damn right. Lock the A$$ up! . . . oh wait, we would run out of room in the jail if that happens

      January 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • DD

      Exactly! How do students that are not even legal immigrants go all through our school system and even graduate college without their illegal parents going to jail??? This is makes no sense at all.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Teri

    I can't believe the judge would ruin the woman's earning abilities over the kids going to the wrong school. Doesn't the judge have feelings.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Please!

      Teri–the judge was lenient in sentencing. It was NOT the judge who convicted her. It was a jury.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FanDango

    Always a bone-head by the book prosecutor in every state. If this dont reek of Presidential or Governor pardon, I dont know what does.

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

    Oh my gosh, that poor woman! Frankly, I would have done the same thing!!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. FanDango

    I would be courious what type of punishment, if any, if she were WHITE?

    January 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Good point.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Furbo

      When whit people commit crime they're not considered criminals but "mentally ill people". If you catch my drift.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Actually, Ohio is pretty strict about this. When I lived there, I offered to let my friend's son live with me, until (well I thought 2 weeks, but it turned into 2 years).... Anyhow, the school district forced him to work and pay me 'reasonable' rent ($200/mo), with his earned money; to prove he was not just living with me to go to a 'good' school. Had I adopted him, he could have just gone to the school. It is not a black/white thing, Ohio is just sensitive to their educational dollars.

      My old town also found out it some streets were mislabled and kids were going to the neighboring school district, my town reimbursed the neighboring town. In this case, it sounds like Akron bares responsibility in costs to Copley, it should not all be on the mother.

      Finally, the thing is, these girls were bound to be graduates from whatever school they went to. Parents believe better schools are magic, but the truth is, that it is caring partents that are the magic, and this mom cared. It is ashamed she made a mistake.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. donahue

    I don't live anywhere near Ohio, I was born in the midwest, and vowed not to have my kids have to grow up there. Racial and economic bias are openly displayed; ignorance of the poor and racially inferior is the goal, who else would pick up the trash? Think what that $6000.00 could have done for that school's budget? The school district was willing to waste 6 grand, but wouldn't even think of increasing an under performing school's budget.
    If I did live closer I would stand outside the court or school district protesting.

    Did this mother even have an option to apply to this school? If she had made a legal request would it have been honored? doubt it. I imagine that some white kid's mother whined about her kid sitting next to a black student.
    Where I live students within the district have the option to apply to a different school once the number of seats needed for the resident children are determined. The entire school district should be audited for address compliance, see who else they flush out. Hello-we live in a world not a village.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      Ohio uses a mix of state, local and federal funds to pay for education; however, this does result in equal distribution of funds. The "poor" district that this woman didn't want to send her children actually spends over $4,000 more per student than the "rich" district. The "poor" district has more money to spend on materials and supplies and on teachers... it can afford a significantly lower student to teacher ratio.

      It can do so not because local taxes are paying more (the "rich" district pays over 75% of its own education costs via local taxes... the "poor" district only pays 37% from local taxes) but because the state and federal government are picking up significantly more of the tab.

      Obviously, throwing money at the problem has not resulted in the poor district performing well. However, the inequity is not due to an economic bias against the poorer or minority districts... there is actually an extreme economic bias in their favor.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Please!

      @Aloisae–You have posted facts about the Ohio school system on these boards several times today. I can't help but notice that you are being ignored. I see a lot of emotional responses here. Apparently, facts don't matter.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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