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)

    Here is the email address for the courts. Please reach out, send them some mail, and make our voices of disgust heard.,,

    January 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael J

    This is ridiculous!! I am black man and NEVER USE USE THE RACE CARD, but this blantant racism. There is no reason why this caring and loving mother should be put in jail and labeled as a felone and will not be able to teach.A complete waste of time and ruin to mothers life, who was ultimately trying togive her children a better chance at life.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jayne

    I NEVER respond or join in discussions. However, this one is it! I am a middle – class white Grandmother living in KY. I challenge Ohio residents to stand up for this woman AND her children! Move away from your keyboards – go do something! Messaging to each other will help no one! This is a opportunity for all of us to learn a better way of dealing with issues. If enough people get involved with the 'solution' ... maybe there will be a chance for this to end up being a turning moment in her life – instead of a tragedy. Shout out loud Ohio residents – where you will be heard!

    January 26, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Barbara

    she got what she deserved..If she wanted a better education for her kids then do it the legal way...but I guess for her that was just too hard..If I were the government Id check to make sure she isn't scamming to get public assistance as well...Im sure they are going to play the race card..don't they always...YOU ARE A THIEF!!

    January 26, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Accipiter

      You have absolutely no idea how the public school system works, do you? People pay TAXES. These taxes go into paying for public education. The 'legal' way to get her kids into a better school district would be to move into a better neighborhood...which she can't afford. Why should her kids be penalized just because she isn't rich enough to move into a 'good' neighborhood that has a better school?

      January 27, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Barbara

    Parents need to stop blaming teachers for their kids lack of knowledge, get out of the bingo halls and start to study with your of today have too many gadgets to derail them from there studies...Put the blame where it belongs...I sick of hearing white kids get the better education because they have the better teachers and us poor black folks have nothing and our teachers are garbage...You get what you give...Stop making excuses already...what a joke

    January 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. concernedcitizen

    Wallstreet got trillions of dollars in Tax money and no one went to prison for thieving the systemThis woman sends her kids to a district where her father lives and pays taxes and she is sent to prison.....Dear God what have we Americans Become??

    January 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary Baranski

    Ok...I'm not saying that it is ok to break the law, however, I can understand a mother's need to try to get her children the best education she can. Regardless of what she did, giving her a criminal record that will prevent her from being able to teach in the state of Ohio is WRONG!!! She has worked, and made it this far with her schooling, and would be able to stop needing government assistance because of the work she has put in. Stripping her of that chance, when she is so close to making things better for herself and her children is RIDICULOUS!!!! I do not feel that what she did warranted this kind of consequence. The state should be ashamed of itself!!!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DaringD

    Why is it, that an illegal who has no right to be in this country at all .. can put their kids in any US School and no one does a damn thing, but this mother who wants a better education for her children is in jail ??? The address is their dad's.. how is that illegal??

    January 26, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gwats

    All I see is a THIEF, stealing in the name of her kids. What kind of example is she setting by STEALING their education? The send the message that if you think it's important, it's OK to steal or lie to get it. Enjoy those ten days in the hole, as someone who owns a house and break his ass everyday to keep it, you are deserving of NO sympathy, and you'll get none here.

    January 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Accipiter

      How is she 'stealing' a public education? She pays taxes, just like any other citizen. She simply doesn't have the money to live in a better neighborhood, thus her children are punished by having to go to a bad school? Doesn't make sense to me.

      January 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chelle

    This is a heartbreaking story – and all to common. You have inner city children and their parents trying desperately to provide a good education for their children in a safe environment. You have Teachers Unions which support bad teachers in these schools (as long as their dues are current) and you have a current administration that cancels the School Voucher Program, which for many, is the only answer for their children to have a fighting chance at a prosperous future.

    What else can the parents do? They are desperate and they want a better life for their kids. Can you blame her? Not me. I blame a broken education system that is filled with Union Bureaucrats that don't give a damn about the kids – but instead, line their pockets with "bail out" money... all the while claiming "hope and change".

    January 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tammie

    I hope the right person or people see this and helps this woman, I would love to see all this plublicity benefit her and her family.

    January 26, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. pmgnn

    This is why we should have a state voucher system in every state where a parent can send his child to any school he so desires. This solves the education problem, but might make some unions, teachers, and administrators very unhappy.

    January 26, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Accipiter

    "He denied that Williams-Bolar was singled out because she is black and the Copley-Fairlawn district is 75% white."

    This is such rubbish. So false. Why else would the school system spend $6,000 to investigate someone, when no doubt TONS of white kids at that school had falsified residence records. Much too shallow of a lie. I hope the charges on this poor woman get reversed and those responsible for this ridiculous sentence punished. The punishment does not match the crime in this case.

    January 26, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Angelique

    If ONLY I could post this with a picture of a pretty white mother and see the difference in what comments are posted. If only! No, I'm not talking about racism exactly. I'm talking about the fact that people can't seem to empathize with someone unless their skin color is the same. It's true, it can be shown over and over again. Is it racism? Not really, but it is definitely telling of our weakness of heart and shortness of thought.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. liz

    Yes, what she did was wrong, but punishment does not fit the "crime". Vehicle manslaughter doesnt even come close to this type of punishment in many cases!
    Take the case of the Cobles who lost their 3 children when their minivan was smashed in half by a speeding truck driver.
    The truck driver got 364 days in jail + 5 yrs probation. Williams-Bolar got sentenced to 5 yrs in jail + 3 yrs probation. Seriously, what is wrong w/ our judicial system???

    January 27, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
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