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. rick

    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

    This emmeneffer should be fn shot... How much for the lives of the two kids and the prosecution of this mother?

    THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE COUNTRY... you can get ahead... until we effffffff you over and squash you like a bug because we CAN. We ARE THE GOVERNMENT.

    February 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. M. Pace

    The headline - "Mom jailed for enrolling kids in wrong school district" - is entirely inappropriate in this case.

    The reason is that by the way it is phrased, it implies that the kids *were* in fact enrolled in the "wrong" school district. But that is a fact not in evidence, a fact that must be determined by a trial or hearing of some sort.

    Often the word "allegedly" is overused, for example in a headline of the type "Unknown suspect jailed for allegedly robbing bank, murdering two of its employees." This would be ludicrous, since in this (fictional) example, the *fact* of the crime itself is not in question.

    But in the present case, the very fact of the crime is most definitely in question: The mother has claimed that both her house and her father's are primary residences. Regardless of what one's opinion may be, whether her claim is correct has yet to be determined.

    Thus the headline should not imply that this "crime" even happened. This is a textbook example of a case where the word "allegedly" or a synonym *must* be used - "Mom jailed for allegedly enrolling kids in wrong school district." (If that's too long for a headline, I'm sure that expert headline writers could shorten it. E.g., "Jailed mom is said to enroll kids in wrong school district," which is only 4 characters longer.)

    February 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uh, no

      Not "allegedly" – she is already convicted. I think she needed a better lawyer, or better yet, she needed to learn how to legally obtain her goals before she acted.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. OMG

    Okay.. we all know what she did was to help her children but she broke the law in the process. She got caught and she has to pay the consequences for it. I believe giving her a felony is just wrong. A lesser sentence should had justify for her actions. Now she is in jail for 10 years and what happens to her kids? (We) the taxpayer has to pay for the kids. Great way to resolve this issue and destroying someone's life. FAILED!!!!!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kelly

    Once again, I'm embarrassed to be an American. The district spent $6,000 on an investigation? The school district administrators should be jailed. The law is wrong and needs to be changed. Period. I think that if a district accepts federal funding, any child should be allowed to attend school there. If you want to keep you district lily white, then refuse federal funding. The fact that this woman is in jail is a disgrace. It's just another example of how lower income people are kept in a cycle of poverty by the powers that be.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. GinnyL

    I realize that what this young mother did was illegal. I realize that her intentions were truly honorable. While I think she should receive some punishment for violating our laws, taking away a future career that could enhance her children's futures as well as possibly many more children in her role as a teacher (God knows she's worked hard enough for that career.) is very extreme. I tend to be conservative (over 60, live in SC, parents were two of 20 people who voted for Goldwater) but I will definitely make an exception in this case. Not only is this court's decision very extreme for her personally, but, no matter what your religion, ethic, or racial background may be, it could also have a detrimental backlash for all of us. How often do our children have good role models? She could be one of those role models, even, and maybe especially, using her own life experiences to say "I've been there, done that. Don't do it!" And that role could cover all social barriers. Give this woman and all of us a break!! I hope the conviction is at least reduced to a misdemeanor. That would only be fair and just.

    February 18, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Steph

      I know the woman was trying to do what she felt was best for her children, but she didn't think about the consequences to other children in the school district where she committed fraud. I legally live in Grove City Ohio where I have had my children in private school for the past 2 years. This year I decided to enroll them in the public school because it is rated excellent with distinction. I was then informed that only my daughters class was too full and she will potentially be bused to another school (which has a lower rating). I also recently found out that another person on our street has been allowing her sister, who does not live in the district, to use her address so her children can attend this school. To make matters even worse, one of the children is in my daughters class. If my daughter does not get to remain at the school and I have to pay to send her to private school again, I will be squealing like a pig. I live there legally and pay my taxes and my daughter can not attend the school while someone else commits fraud. Also, this woman could had legally given up parental rights for school purposes only to the father if he lived in that district and it would not had been fraud. I hope you feel differently now that you hear about the effects that she could be causing to families that legitimately live in the area and have a right to attend the school.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Katie

    Five years seems a little excessive for the crime, but there does seem to be more to the story if her father has also had trouble with the law.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. SawItComing

    She knew she was cheating, and tried to beat the system. If she spent 1% of her legal defense bill to ask a lawyer her options BEFORE comitting the crime (such as a custody transfer), her child might still be in that scool, and she might not be in jail. If you have a tax question, ask an accountant BEFORE you file tax returns, ask your doctor BEFORE you rely on home remedies, and ask your lawyer BEFORE you take legal risks. If you don't, you may get destroyed and you won't see it coming.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amen

      Agreed – that's what we pay them for.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jon Martin

    This is absurd. What a waste of tax payers money and resources. They must have nothing better to do over there in Ohio. So now this poor woman will never be able to get her teaching job and will have to continue the cycle of her living in the ghetto because of this? I don't care if its law or not it should have been thrown out don't they have more important stuff to worry about? Jesus whats wrong with the world. She should go on welfare and have the system pay for them too since the system put them there. This is ridiculous and angers me beyond all reason.

    February 21, 2011 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dan the Red

    If Dad's home was their "second home" or, even as they seem to want to imply, their "primary residence," why did she have a (government subsidized) place in the other district? Twelve break-ins? I sure wouldn't stay, if I had an option. If I were her father, I would've exerted every bit of influence to get out of there. Why did she stay? Makes me wonder....

    February 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. From-a-distance

    The crime here is the appalling discrepancy in the quality of education available to Americans. How can it be that using the address of a close relative, in order to address this gross unfairness, is a crime? It is common practice among upper middle class parents, and I daresay none of them have ever been prosecuted.
    I think that criminal charges should have been laid – against the Director of Education and the Superintendant of the School Board for breach of fiduciary responsibility, or perhaps criminal neglegence causing poverty – for allowing children to attend a schoool that has so clearly and utterly failed.
    Americans, you live in one of the richest countries on the planet, and there is no excuse for your lousy education system. You can afford to make it right (if you need a little guidance, just look north – Canada spends about the same as you on education yet routinely outperforms the US (and most of the world) on standardized measures of educational achievement. What a sad story.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Outraged Annie

    No parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school. If the law requires it, the law is wrong. I see this as the equivalent of a gentile hiding a Jew from the Nazis. The gentile was breaking the law, but the law was wrong.

    I paid part of someone's utility bill every month so that I could use their address on school forms. By hiding my child's true address, my child could go to a school where she would actually learn something and not be in danger from gang violence. The outrage is that any parent (and I am a taxpayer, not on welfare, never have been) would be forced to send their child to a dead-end school. If anybody should go to jail, it is the education establishment that set this mother up.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cincy_Sensei

      Did you read this before posting? Per your statement:any school that begins to fail, ALL parents should take their children out of that school?...So we just keep moving children between school buildings until -for some magical reason- the children learn when attending class 'Here', but not 'There'. Duh! It is not money, the difference is student/parent behavior. What about parents encouraging active participation in class & homework (not sports & appearances)? What about disciplining behavioral issues? Expelling students that do not CONFORM to expected behavior & whose parents do not care...or insist the problem is not their child? You fix, not run away from problems & challenges. You would be a great example to a child that is certain to fail in life. If the US Dept Education would cease to exist, States would have the tools to ensure public schools are great!

      February 23, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cincy_Sensei

    I hope the –reverend– Sharpton does go to the defense of this nit-wit, because he is the King nit-wit. All drama, no substance.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Matthew Freedom

    Doesn't their father pay taxes in that district? Since when is a father not a parent?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • MCWAY

      Matthew Freedom,

      It's the convicted woman's father (the girls' GRANDFATHER) whose address was being used, so the girls could go to a different school.

      May 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jack

    This woman goes to jail for trying to make a better life for her Children..As an American Citizen too..But let Paco and his children enter this Country Illegally because they want a better life and NOTHING happens to them except Food Stamps Government Assistance..Free lunches....Anyone else see what is wrong with this picture!!

    April 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jack

    why not ask the white people how it feels to be passed up for a job because of your color!
    Talk about Racism !!

    April 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
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