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. J

    If they're going after her for fraud and want to make an example of her, why don't they go after the ILLEGAL ALIENS who don't pay any property taxes and yet, still send their kids to the same schools as AMERICAN CITIZENS and LEGAL RESIDENTS who do pay property taxes?

    February 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kirk

    Wow…so, let’s bring back the Iron Maiden, thumbscrews, and eunuchs into our crime and punishment practices. Way to go Mr. Ohio Judge…I mean, “your Honor”.

    February 2, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jess

    Cases like these make me embarrassed for the country I call home. Just reading this article fills me with rage. The kids technically should have been able to attend that school. The fact that they spent 6k on an investigation like this outrages me. Dumba$$ people running our justice system and country. Go out and fight for something WORTH fighting for. OUTRAGEOUS!!

    February 8, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brinkman

    This goes on all the time in St. Louis County / the news is somebody bothering to pursue prosecuting it !

    February 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Susan

    I felt sorry for this mom, and worried discrimination might be involved, but just heard about 2 white families at a local school in Iowa who were sentenced to one year of probation and fined for exactly the same thing. I guess schools are serious about the boundary laws, and will pursue their rights lawfully.
    Why didn't the mom move in with her dad who lives within the school district?

    February 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. F-ing Ridiculous

    OMG... this Judge is a freaking idiot. Sounds like someone needs to exact some justice for that poor woman.

    February 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sydney

    What a shame. She sounds like a good person trying to rise above and succeed and her crime is that she also wants her children to succeed. Kick them out of the school if you are so brazen and cold but press criminal felony charges? Wow, that's just wrong. It looks like this will ruin their future. Now she has a felony and her kids have to go to a crappy school. That makes me sad and mad.

    February 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. musings

    Can you imagine a white middle class mother being put in jail for something so innocuous? No, not unless we're living in an authoritarian nightmare. Which maybe is the place so many black people are living. And the kids would be going to school in their father's district anyway (even though he apparently does not have custody of them). This is a cruel way of dealing with a bureaucratic problem – way disproportionate to the "offense".

    February 14, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. dantemilan

    Here's what I want to know – why didn't dad enroll the kids himself and avoid this whole mess?

    I think it's ridiculous this woman is being vilified for what she did. Rules are rules and I believe they should be followed, but a felony? 5 years in jail (or even only 10 days)? Come on! And now she can't finish her teaching credential, essentially sealing this family's fate as permanent residents of the h e l l hole they're trying to get out of? These are the kind of people we should be trying to help not condemn!!! This is so aggravating.

    February 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jason

    OK, so:

    1. She broke the law by lying about her address.
    2. District found out, supposedly offered choices to continue enrollment.
    3. Woman declined, district sued.
    4. Woman is found guilty.

    Now, up to this point, there's nothing wrong. She broke the law, and should be punished. What is an absolute disgrace, however, is #5.

    5. Woman is convicted of a *felony*, and a 5 year suspended jail sentence.

    Are. you. freaking. kidding. me?

    How, on earth, does this punishment fit the crime? Absolutely ridiculous.

    February 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Judy Lexington

    This incident emphasizes the inequality of education in the United States. Rich kids go to good schools, while the poor ones are left dealing with inadequate and underfunded schools. It can be hoped that this woman's actions will lead to changes in how our educational system is structured.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. jeff

    She is not the only Mom who practices this!

    February 15, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. norker

    how dare she try to get her children out of her caste. the good white folk of Copley Township shouldn't have to put up with this, clearly.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SB

    Why punish so severely a young mom for trying to give her children a chance at a better life?! Is there no justice...??! Shame on those who passed such harsh judgement! Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Ms Williams-Bolar.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TheLostSurveyor

    Anyone who comes across this Brian Poe character should summarily kick him in the nads .

    February 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
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