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. Sharon LuBecky

    Yes, she lied to give her children better opportunities in life. Her children will value her for going forward in her education to become a teacher, when she could have just stayed home – not caring. Even though she had another address, so have many of all ethnic backgrounds done the same for their children. In the powerful autobiography by Betty Smith " A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", the child Francie Nolan, is the one who changes her address, and lie to her family and teachers, so that she can have better opportunities in life. We should ask ourselves, do I know anyone who had to go to jail and lose all chances of being a teacher with a felony charge in order to have my children have a better education than I did. Everyone should look honestly at our "Public School System" and how many states have a low percentage of graduates!!!!

    January 27, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sonia Diaz


    January 27, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |


      January 27, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken Bell

      This is a bad case of what this country is made of. She didn't shoot up the school she didn't endanger anyone her kids didn't put on black coats and shoot up the place they just wanted to get a better education. She did what ever amercian is doing in this country trying to better her kids

      January 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • monica silverio did the right thing for your children...our states dont have anything better to do...if they focused on the public school system this would not have happened...your not wrong...alsoi pulled my autistic son out of school for 6 months last year ...i was found in the right

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

      Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar, the system has not only let you down but it has now made giving your children a better education a crime. Years ago parents were getting arrested for not letting their children go to school outside their district. My and my family's prayers are with you.

      January 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUKiddin

      Broke the law, received a trial, found guilty, go to jail. The reason doesn't justify what she did. I want my grandkids to go to an ivy league college, if I steal the money, or print up money for them to go does my reason justify what I do? NO! If she wanted her kids in that school. She should have made a permenant move leaving no doubt about her place of residency.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kami

      The facts: 1. A mother tried to provide her kids a fighting chance by enrolling them into a school they technically were qualified to attend 2. She is now a convicted felon 3. As a convicted Felon, her chances of EVER getting a decent job to even provide her children their basic needs are next to none 4. This country and it's justice system has grossly failed her and her children. I happen to know of someone with a very similar situation and it's devastating.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie

      Sad story... Prosecute a mother who is looking for a better future for her children. But more sad is the government actually going through a whole process of arresting her, permanently damaging her record, all for the sake of trying what any HONEST parent would do to ensure their children's future. Stupid waste of resources! Instead of going after parents who are BUMS and have their children exposed to viloence and drugs. Oh? Double morale? Sure mom... let's make an example out of you. Not only your children aren't going to a better school, but we will make sure you have a criminal record to ensure you and your children NEVER have a chance for a better future. God Bless America....

      January 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      The fact of the matter is that this woman lied. Yes, I would go to all lengths to get my children a better education and a better life at whatever cost–but there are LEGAL ways to do this... including purchasing a home or apartment in the school district. If she is taking classes at a University I'm thinking should could afford one of the $600/month rental agreements in the apartment complex across from my neighborhood. Bob Dyer wrote an excellent story about this:

      Yes, she wanted a better life for her children but she should have thought about the consequences of her actions and that maybe convicting a felony to get there and being sent to prison would not be the best for her girls. And when confronted about the issue with school officials (which by the way, they do to everyone who is suspected of living outside the district to help save taxpayers' money) she lied and falsified records. Should someone with the mindset of cheating the system and working around the rules (the very things we are taught in school) to be a teacher?

      January 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • jen

      Unless your a mother or father you have no idea the lengths parents will go to make their kids lives better. I dont think it a matter of trying to get a "free education" she just wants what is best for her kids. Can you blame her....wouldn't you?

      January 30, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • karvictho

      I agree Sonia, the devil is involved here. You can clearly see it from the ignorant and hateful posts people are leaving... like "she should buy a house in that neighborhood." Obviously if she had the money she'd be living in a district that used its tax money to educate the rich or at least, the wealthier part of society. But not to worry Sonia. At some point these same haters will find they too lack the funds to move to the rich neighborhoods to get tax paid basic services then we will see them change their tune.

      January 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I expected this out of Ohio. It is a terrible state to live from what I have heard. They will jail u for anything there. I will keep this family in my prayer.

      January 31, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Ruth

      It's unfortunate however I know what it feels to be a mother and want the best for your child. I think this incident should be further looked into. This mother went to this extreme for a reason. Poor education, I probably would have done the same or better yet moved out to a better location for my children safety and education.

      February 10, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • caligal

      She got what she deserves. I could not get my kids into a better school, so I have to pay tuition for them to attend a private school. My husband and I do without extras and scrimp and save to pay their tuition. We did not cheat. Respect the law and obey it. That is setting an example for your kids!

      February 17, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Kt

      Wow, this disgusts me Ohio. If you were adequately taking care of your education system, this wouldn't even be an issue. No one – not that judge, arresting officers, lawyers, government officials – NO ONE wants to send their kids to a school that only meets 4 of 26 set standards. A child could learn more from Sesame Street! To think that our government would punish a mother who wants the education due every child in this country, is as I said, disgusting.

      February 18, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • KS

      I sympathize with her, but she broke the law and got caught. They did at least suspend the sentence to 10 days which combined with the community service seems fair. Is this the kind of person you want teaching your kids though? Someone who tries to cheat the system?

      February 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • edutopian

      this is unbelievable and outrageous!
      has public education become a police state? the superintendent should rethink the district's position. to let the situation go to court to begin with is beyond ridiculous.
      parents should not be harassed for opting out of failing schools. many states implement NCLB to support allowing families to transfer out of failing schools.
      Everyone needs to see Waiting for Superman. While it is not without flaws, it certainly portrays many truths–this fiasco could be added as another example.

      February 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew Freedom


      February 23, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. St. Germain

    Beware of the New World ORder

    January 27, 2011 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. overit2011

    The national media slant on this story is disgusting. This woman could have sent her girls to any number of excellent suburban schools that actually offer open enrollment. Copley-Fairlawn does not have open enrollment. If you want to go there, you need to live there or pay. The district offered this woman numerous options and she refused or ignored them. This woman was singled out because she was defiant and thought she could be yet another system, not because she is black. She broke the law. Her father broke the law. If she were doing it for her children, she would have sent them to a different school that allows students from outside the district without the tuition that she could not afford. BTW... I don't want to hear any more about the father's property taxes because he is delinquent. He hasn't paid his taxes, so it's a null point.

    January 27, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • wow

      the REAL crime here is the difference in the qualities of education as a parent i would do the same and if i was financially unable to pay the tuition i would use a family members adress to better my childrens future. that being siad , what charges are being filed agianst the akron school that is not doing thier job, 4 of 26 standards is a sign of misuse of funds where is my tax money going. i don't care what excuses they give for the 76% graduation rate thats the parents responsibilty but if the school is not making a quality education available and from this articles representaion they are not then someone is wasting my dime. this future teacher who cared about the educational standards her children recieved stood up for them. and instead of a slap on the wrist she should have gotten they gave her a felony please that is not ok in america the land of the free as long as you don't stand out in a crowd and the home of the brave will made examples of, is getting tiring instead of a felony, a misdemener would have served the purpous in this case so dissipionted in the decisions we as a society are making.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Had to respond

      I do feel that it is your place to be posting the fact the father is behind in property taxes or that the woman could not afford it, that was way out of line. I think that if the father lives in the area, and that is his daughter then why not. You in Ohio do way to much it's okay to send them to another subburban school of your coice, just not the one of her choice. If this was the case here in California, we would have all our parents arrested for this cause.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • sonya

      the fact that we live in a country with a public education system SOOOO GROSSLY INEQUITABLE that a woman felt the need to break the law to get her children THE BEST education she could is the travesty. How easy it is to villanize this woman, than it is to question WHY our schools are still SOOOOOOO UNEQUAL.

      January 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meat

      1. Her kids spent time with there grand farther (whom lives in the district) so they thought they should be abel to put the kids in that school. 2. If grandpa is behind in taxes, so what. He will pay them or they will take the house and the district will get there dam money.
      If money is the issue then see how long grandpa lived there and payed his taxes, then see how much of that went to the school systum and give it back to him and I'll bet paw-paw would pay his taxes and and that dam bs tuition. Now lets be real. I know and you know at least 2-7 + familys who has or is sending a child or two to a diffent sckool useing a diffent address, and most of those addresses are bogus or the child has never spent more than 5 days in that home. So why not your self and the hundreds I just discribe in jail. At least this woman had a true address that she thought she could use. Race? It is what it is.

      January 27, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coaster

      It sounds like she didn't consider all the options, just the easiest, or the only one she knew about. She could have LEGALLY changed the kids' home of record to the grandfather's house, then they could have gone to that school. OR she could have looked online at one of the many school ratings systems, and picked a local school with open enrollment. OR she could have home schooled them. The state of the grandfather's property taxes have no bearing on this story.

      Four our of Twenty Six, that's just shameful. I really don't blame her for wanting her kids in another school, it's too bad no one went over the "how to's" with her.

      January 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • karvictho

      The real point overit2011 is that no parent should have to bus their kid into another district because the difference between a good school and a failing one is based on local property taxes. America today is totally undereducated, people who have tried to get a college or university education are thousands and thousands in debt. We will never be able to compete with the rest of the world if we cannot provide a free and sound education for all Americans.

      January 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Prez

    The fact is, all we need to do is invest more in our educational systems (for the children). Tons of more money will make every school 100 % grad rate and every child will want to learn more as long as we invest in them.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Diva

      prez- there is NO data available that throwing money at school systems means improved student achievement. What Does matter is parental involvement.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Meat

      Diva lol, " The Prez" was just being smartass, but while we're on the subject, you are right. Throwing money at anything isn't the anser. We do need to put more money in to our schools but we can't stop there. We need to step back and take a look at our schools and cut out wast and start produceing smart well educated yung ppl, even if it means edducating the child and the family, and if we need to put some of those non conformming parents in jail.

      January 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WHAT

    she should have been mexican they get asked no questions and allowed to go anywere without proof. this women should ask for the same treatment as an illegal and she would be set free.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. Williams is NOT a role model

    I don't really understand how so many are arguing that this woman was just being a good mother and is being punished for doing everything she could for her children. What about all the other single mothers who face equal or perhaps greater obstacles than she does and FOLLOW the law? Are you saying that because they choose to follow the law, that they have somehow failed in their duties as a mother? After all, why aren't they willing to do everything possible, regardless of the law, to ensure a better education for their children? What happened to the days when the most important thing a mother could do was to be a good role model for their children, to teach them right from wrong and to instill in them that there is a consequence when you violate the law.

    Williams is no saint, and should definitely NOT be a martyr for the cause of equal education. Why not ask the salient questions here...this woman was living in public housing yet was making a salary working for the school district AND getting child support. And she wouldn't move although her home had been broken into 12 times? Sounds like she loves that free ride a little too much...and don't forget, once she enrolled her kids illegally in the other school district, she also committed fraud by claiming she had ZERO income so she wouldn't even have to pay for their lunches. Is that about getting a better education, too? When the whole truth finally is made public, those who are rallying behind this woman and elevating her to some civil rights hero status will have egg on their face.

    January 27, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Meat

      Maybe she claimed 0 income and got free lunch, if so then same on her. If we all agree that teachers ain't makeing jack then what do you think a teacher's asstent makes? FREE RIDE, r u kidding me? If a single mother w/ 2 kids is going to school to be a teacher ans is almost done and has already finished school to be a teacher's aid and must raise these girls on a teachers salarey and the best we can do is give her a hole in the wall apartment in the hood, then S

      January 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meat

      We have pudlic houseing to help good ppl who need temp. help. If any one gets pub. houseing I think it should be a single mother of 2 who goes to school so that one day soon she could be a teacher and make her own way and pay these high texes . After all, she's a teacher's aid and that's a gov. job and I'm sure houseing ppl know just what she makes and if she's elable then that's the crime. She thought she could use her dad's address becaus they spint most of there time there and you think it's ok to put here in jail, give her a fellinie conv., and a 5 yr suspended centents.
      Now she can no longer vote nor can she be a teacher. I'll bet if all the white kids who go to that school under a false address parents went to jail and LOST THERE RIGHT TO VOTE, you would chang your toon.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      @Meat: perhaps you should go back to school and work on that spelling and grammar. Some ethics and logic might help, too, considering you think it's okay to lie about your income to receive government assistance.

      January 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Citizen

      People need to read ALL the facts. The national media evidently doesn't know. Read this letter from the Editor and learn a few more facts about this case.

      January 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Citizen

      I've tried 3 times to post a link and this site won't let me. How about that?

      January 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Citizen

      Wow! CNN obviously only want you to know what THEY tell you. What a croc. Go to akron news now (dot) com (no spaces) and read the letters from the editor regarding this case.

      January 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. "the reason"

    This woman broke the law plain and simple. Where is this country going if we can't prosecute people who brake the law. No matter how small or big the offense, you need to do the time. This will force all of the other people in the country doing the same exact thing to take another look at what they are doing. I am glad that the school decided to take action and set an example. We need more schools, businesses, and people to do the right thing and not worry about it becoming a "race" issue. God bless America.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wizzo

      She didn't break the law if she and her children where at the residence for more that 45% of the time then it can be considered a residence. I'm happy for the mother because after she sue's her kids will go to college on the county/state dime.

      January 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • sonya

      some laws are unjust. Those laws should be broken. Laws such as being forced to give up your seat on a bus for white people, not eating at a "whites only" restaurant or not enrolling your kids in the best school in your area. Those are laws designed to disenfranchise people. WE SHOULD BREAK THOSE LAWS EVERY OPPORTUNITY WE GET.

      "I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
      Martin Luther King Jr.

      January 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meat

      Now she can no longer vote nor can she be a teacher. I'll bet if all the white kids who go to that school under a false address parents went to jail and LOST THERE RIGHT TO VOTE, you would chang your toon.

      @ Sonya, no babby we shouldn't brake the law no matter how wrong it is, we need to vote and chaing them. I you think a laws is races or wrong and it's ok to brake it then what's to stop some boss from paying black ppl les than whites because he thinks it's right.

      So I say, if you feel that way then go to the local jail and confes to any and all crimes nomatter how small that you think you've done even and give up your rights to vote.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      @Sonya: A true follower of MLK and Civil Disobedience does the time for the crime committed. THAT is the catylist to change. Pity the mother decided to send her children out of district instead of one of the other LEGAL schools within her district with as high or superior test scores as the "White" school.

      January 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • musings

      I "brake" for good parents.

      February 14, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Really????

      I have to say I was literally enraged by this case before I went to the Akronnewsnow(dot) com website and read the timeline of events. Yes... there is no doubt that she manipulated the system to get several advanages for her family. There is no doubt about it! And yes, i find myself wondering why she didn't just give up her gov housing and move in with her parents. However, there has got to be a better way to punish her besides giving her felonies... The only possible outcome if the sentence stays the way it is now is that she will not be able to get her teaching license= no job=continued gov housing=welfare=not being able to pay student loans or not getting use out of gov funded grants=her kids dont get a good education and her education is wasted=nothing but a negative impact on the community as a whole

      Seriously though............How do we have schools in the United States of America that only meet 4 out of 26 standards???? This is the real issue that needs to be discussed!!

      February 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Truth

    U are a prejudice idiot!!! How are u gonna"prejudge" these kids when u know absolutely nothing about them. Evidently, the fact that their mother was in school to become a teacher says something. Usually, kids that are "loud and obnoxious" kids have parents that are the same and who could care less. And this woman appears to be neither of them considering the fact of being close to graduating college AND wanting a better education for her kids. And i've seen plenty of "loud and obnoxious" white kids throwing temper tantrums when they don't get their way with their parents, and sometimes later killing them. U might be one of them.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Akronhatesmothers

    IN DIRECT RESPONSE TO OVERIT2011 The reality is this woman was denied an option. I am sure the options were given in a way that did not allow her children to move from one district to another. This is happening all OVER this nation and our students are STILL being denied an education. Property taxes are irrelevant to her sentence, she JUST AS ANY MOTHER tried to assist her children, although it was a tuition based school there was no reason to file criminal charges against a woman who is trying to make a way for her children in a space that has not only turned their backs on her but denied her the fundemental right to A SUSTAINABLE education. So breaking the law is neither here nor there, sincerely this is a case of race linked with impoverishment. Her fight is not over and I wish her children and this mother dignity and pride, as she is escorted as if she is a murderer to prison. So property taxes, tuition, life happens and this is not the first time someone has been delinquent on their taxes. WELCOME TO a war against the citizens of this country!

    January 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ejlee2006

    This is just STUPID....... LIKE WHAT OBAMA SAID TO THOSE COPS THAT ARRESTED HIS FRIEND. She is black they put her in jail, if this mother was white, it could have been a different story

    January 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Truth

    This story is less about the fact that she broke the law as it is why she was singled out in the first place and given such a harsh sentence. I mean, really a felony? Now she can't get her teaching credentials in that state. I'm quite sure there are quite a few white students "illegally" attending this same school, but no one sends a private investigator to follow them.

    I hope when she gets out she sends her kids to actually live with her father so she can rub it their face when the kids "legitimately" enroll back in that school. This is a modern day Brown Vs. the Board of Education with loopholes. And furthermore , I really hope Obama pardons her. If that trifling Patty Hearst could be then, without a doubt, she should too. AND TO ALL THE NAY SAYERS: Just because something is illegal by law doesn't mean that it's morally wrong.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Please read more than one article before making racist statements. In the local news story it was reported, "The Copley-Fairlawn School District, according to Superintendent Brian Poe, is not an open enrollment district. In the past several years, Poe says he has held more than 50 hearings with families whose residency claims are disputed" and "Regardless of a family's background, if they live in the Copley-Fairlawn School District, they will be welcomed into the schools with open arms."

      She was not in the correct district. She lied about her residency. She is paying the punishment. The end.

      January 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rod Venger

    How many illegal aliens did that "investigation" uncover? Were they prosecuted as well?

    January 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |


    January 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • 'nuffsaid

      "YOU'RE AN IDIOT" is correct.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. L.P.

    Only in America!!! A mother shouldn't have to lie and commit a crime to get her children a good education! It's no wonder most of the world is against America after reading some of these comments.
    Mother herself living in a low income area, obviously can't afford to pay more taxes
    Mother herself going to school to better herself, obviously can't afford extra costs
    Only in America would idiots convict a mother of trying to get her child a better education in a very faulted educational system. Unequal opportunities all around! Good-luck children of America!

    January 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      She didn't HAVE to lie, she CHOSE to lie. Her legal district has more than one school.

      January 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
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