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. tax payer

    why don't the cops spend their time catching kids who are milking the system for free. yes, I am talking about illegal immigrants. Their parents are not paying a dime in taxes but their kids get to go to school for free while a hardworking tax payer gets punished for wanting a better education for her kids. We need to require schools to verify each child and their parents proof of legal residency in the US before they are admitted to attend school. If we can prevent them from working and prevent their children from attending school, they will not want to come to the US. This way we can spend the tax payers money on educating the tax payers children.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. G.R. Tracy

    Let her go. She was trying to give her children opportunities for a better life. She took a big risk because she loves them that much. Don't send a mother who cares this much about education to JAIL! What kind of message is this, America? Her kids should be proud, do well in school and do her proud. They should become lawyers and fight this kind of injustice.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Oh boy

    funny how we always have to throw the race card everytime. I'm sure it's only because she's black. I'm surprise the court ruling didn't just specify that fact. Honestly, the people who are most racially prayed upon are the white people. Ask any white person.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shandha

      This is appauling! This is absoluetly ridiculous! What judge convicted this woman of this crime? The educators from this school system actually find this justifiable? Go mom! I would sit in jail for my ten days and take this all the way to the Supreme Court! This is America! Every student deserves a quality education....cased closed! Segregation is still alive and kicking..

      January 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • AManda


      January 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzy-Wisconsin

      Well said!!! I absolutely agree with you 100%!!!! If anything the school should be investigated for poor graduating rates and the teacher(s) that are not doing their job!!

      January 26, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob from Akron

      The prosecuter tried the wrong case here & it is resulting in an uproar over the wrong issue. If she lived with her father than she owes for the public housing. The school system then becomes irrelevant. While I am sure she did something for her children by sending them to a better school, she should have allowed someone else to live in the subsidized housing that she found unfit to raise her children in. Jeers to Sherri Beven Walsh (Summit county Prsecuter)for allowing our community to become a laughing stock by showing her inexperience in formulating a cause & effect descision before proceeding in a case that looks so silly.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • buttonbuck

      This issue is not silly for those who abide the law and have to actually pay for a good education for our children. Silly I think not Bob.

      January 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • musings

      What next, debtor's prison?

      February 14, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • gwats

      Yes Shanda, they ALL deserve an education. She stole one for HER kids because she did not pay for kids to go to that school through her PROPERTY TAXES! She deserves to go to jail because she ROBBED every property owner in that school district. As a renter, I know that's a little above your head.

      January 26, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • LEM

      gwats: You sound bitter, just like a racist. At least, she did not rob a bank nor kill anybody in order to send her children to a better school. Who doesn't want the best for their children? You may not have to use false address to get your child/children in school (if you have any), but I'm sure you are not a saint. Maybe, if this Ohio white school is invested they would find white children enrolled under false addresses and no private eye was hired to follow them around. Why this woman? The answer is obvious. She is black. Period. I am sure if this was a white woman no one would hear about it. It's people like you that keep the flame of prejudice still burning in this country. Thank God, the day of recompense is surely coming.

      January 28, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • rmoffatt

      Isn't this a lovely story? A mother, children, a Brian Poe and the law.

      This is not about theft of education from a school district. This is about the theft of education from children.

      This is one of the meanest stories of the day – the story of a lack of a judicial distribution of opportunity for the children of America. Education should not be up for adjudication in America. This is solely a lily-white district, doing what they do best. Discriminate. However, at least they are blatent in their disregard. Ms. Lydia, the kids are better off away from this shame.

      January 27, 2011 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • md


      Please do some research. The district is 25% minority...and guess what they RESIDE there, pay taxes, and are accountable.

      January 27, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Just wanted to point out the jury convicted this woman, not the judge. The judge reduced a 5 year sentence to 10 days.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      If people lie and the children know they are lying to get them to attend what they consider a better school, then they are teaching their kids that lying is just fine if the ends justify the means. So in a few years, they can lie for what they want – on job applications, government aid forms, or steal to get what they want since they cannot get it legitimately. Their mother and grandfather have taught them well. The school system as well as many others abide by the law and the parents should too. All she had to do was move in with her father for a few months and only have one residence. Or give the guardianship to her father. She did not want to move in with her father and give up all her free government aid. There were many options and the school system spent two years talking to her about all these options. She chose none of the above and broke the law. She deserves what she got.

      These school systems that border the Akron Public Schools all have the same problems. Copley is better than most as they have a reasonable racial balance. Why is no one asking Akron Public is failing? Focus on that rather than overburdening a school that is doing well for all their legitimate students.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • TCB1

      @ Oh Boy....I hope you learn how to spell and I'll pray that you get some common sense since you think the only people racially preyed upon are white. Get your head out of the sand and go read some statistics!

      January 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • U-No

      The line of demarcation is - RICH vss POOR - and mostly always has been, it just becomes more clear as educational differences are more blended now.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      This does seem to be the case but it is not the school funding that is the determining factor. The "poor" district where this woman lives spends about $4,000 more per student for education (which, btw, doesn't even include the costs of subsidizing the food costs for the students who qualify).... the majority coming from general state funds with a nice chunk of federal funding... than the "rich" district does where she lied to send her kids (which pays 75% of its educational costs out of local funds, not even receiving enough in state and federal funding to bring it up to the spending level of the "poor" district or to allow it the luxury of the smaller class sizes that the "poor" district has).

      Money spent on education doesn't seem to be the key so it must be other factors associated with being "poor" and "rich" that make the difference between the performance of the students.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Physicsstudent

      My guess is that working at a "rich" school is an easier job. The parents get their kids to school on time and make sure the homework is done. The kids are held accountable at home as well as at school, so the kids are on grade level or above. As a result, the best teachers get the best jobs and the crappy teachers are "stuck" teaching at the "poor" schools.

      Seems like we should be paying teachers extra for teaching at these lower income school districts.

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

      In Ohio they are. They also hire more teachers per student for the lower income districts (the majority of the funding coming from general state funds and federal contributions) than they do for the higher income school districts (which can't afford to pay the teachers as much or hire as many or spend as much on supplies because they are paying a significantly higher percentage of their own educational costs out of local taxes than the lower income districts).

      For what it is worth, the lower income district mentioned in the story spends about $4,000 more per student (not counting subsidized lunch programs and the like) than the higher income district mentioned in the story. The lower income district also pays about 37% of their educational expenses out of local funding whereas the higher income district self-funds over 75% of their educational expenses out of local funding. The lower income district has average class sizes about 3/4 that of the higher income district.

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

      You are funny.

      January 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lydia

      And what white person do you know that has done the same and come out with a felony conviction and now barred from being a teacher all because they used another address to register their children?

      January 26, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kanieka Green

      I agree Lydia. I am not one to pull the race card usually. If it quacks lie a duck it is a duck.

      January 26, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hoodvoice.

      The beauty of being a american. A REAL american. How can President Obama make a beautiful State of the Union address and this is what's really going on out here..

      January 27, 2011 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I'm pretty white and it's clear to me and anyone with common sense this is based on race. Do you really think a white person would get a five year felony conviction for this?

      January 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh


      January 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • brad

      Really, I'm half white half mexican and I find your statement absolutely hillarious. White people don't have any issues dealing with racism, other than dealing with their own.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • wow

      well in most cases you are correct i have in the past delt with racism due to the fact that i'm white and yes if your race makes someone dislike you its racism no matter the race of the hater.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      You're a complete idiot. If you don't understand how difficult it is to be a minority in the United States than you are living in a hole. I'm not saying that Ms. Williams-Bolar is being singled out because she is black, but to say that white people are more "racially prayed upon" is insane. Firstly, you probably meant "preyed," but since your education comes from Glenn Beck I'm not surprised you got it wrong. Go and enjoy another evening of Fox News.

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

      What they are doing to her is wrong no matter what color she is so I don't see the relevance in whatever point you were trying to make.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • lobo feroz

      its the law .... 5 years.. there should be no time.. luckily states are going broke and have to stop this madness and release people from jail and fire over staffed police

      January 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hammonm

      Learn how to spell, idiot.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Dude–while it's true that white people have experienced the sting of reverse descrimination (I'm whtie and my taxes pay for my black girlfriend's kids to attend a nice private school, as well as my boss, who can clearly afford to pay the 40K for his son's special needs private school and sues the board of ed every year so that taxpayers can foot the bill), this does ot even begin to compare to centuries of blatant descrimination and abuse of people of color in this country. I'm not saying I like it, but your statement is ignorant at best, and it's time you picked up a history book and reflected on reality. Show some compassion, suck it up, and deal.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gemini

      Ha ha ha….. Thanks for the laugh!!!! Typed like a white person who has NEVER truly experienced any sort of bias… That was funny…… If you are not a person of color or a minority group you do not understand and I would not expect you too. Based on your post I can tell that you are stuck in your little world and not smart enough to look past your own experience and try to fathom what other may go through. To funny

      January 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      I like how you call him an idiot who claims bias by calling him out on his race... LMAO good one. Perhaps I should have started this post with, "Ha ha ha….. Thanks for the laugh!!!! Typed like a black person..." Racist much?

      January 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony


      January 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      white people... have it the hardest? you don't need to be of any race to realize the stupidity of that statement

      January 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • soy sauce

      @ oh boy

      I am as white as white comes and I have never been preyed upon because of my skin colour. Ever. I have no idea what dream la-la land you're living in...maybe you should stay away from your computer and go back to sitting on your porch playing your banjo in bare feet.

      January 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • white person

      i think you are a fool. in the context of this story your statement disgusts and embarasses me. as a white person. i assume my post will be removed if i cuss, so i will once again bite my tongue and go with something more subdued. this woman was looking out for her childrens future while working toward an honorable living. your statement makes me assume you have something against her, which makes me have a lot against you. have you ever been to akron ohio? its an awful place to spend 30 minutes in. get over yourself and start looking past skin. you are a shame to your race. as a white person

      January 27, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
    • sonya

      lmao @ "Ask any white person". lol

      January 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hold On

      First and foremost the correct grammar is "preyed", the tense of the word that you used was what you say to a higher power/being. I am not black nor white but I don't think whites are preyed upon most. Look throughout our history and you will see whites (and still currently do) prey on ANY and ALL minority races. It is only when someone exposes whites for BLATANT racism do they play the victim role, when in reality any non-white falls victim to ignorance. So before YOU claim victim experience the oppression, ignorance, and flat-out hate that ANY minority in America has felt for hundreds of years and currently then play a victim. Now i am not saying that the ENTIRE white race is this way but it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch. I have plenty white friends who use family members addresses to get in-state tuition at my university yet no one has stopped to investigate. Akron,Ohio's school district overall is poor,ineffective, and lacking. Morally this woman is right, unfortunately, lawfully she was wrong. Perhaps she'll let her girls stay with her father so then they can lawfully get a proper education. I went through the public school system and got a very rude awakening when I entered college and found I had learned next to nothing.

      January 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Deborah

    This is really stupid. This is a prime example of when the law isn't helping anyone, it is definitely being used to hurt the children and this mother. Jail time for a mother that cares? In what country does anything about this case make sense. In addition this mother is earning an education and it is almost complete. With this conviction did the "justice system" not only take a better education from her children but are preventing her future in a very humble profession. For anyone trying to justify why this is right or justifiable needs to obtain a brain. This is a case where the punishment doesn't fit the crime.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jarhead6353

    Excellent use of our corrections system: a mother who bent the truth so her kids could go to a decent school. I wonder who they let out to make room for such a menace. Hopefully a deranged killer.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Austin

    To Mmmmm you may need to read my words before you write again i never said i would regulate anything nor did i say it was right that she went to jail. I do however believe it is WRONG to jail any parent for wanting something better or something good for their children. I actually think it is quite amusing that now her children probably do have to stay with their grandfather and have to go to that school anyway since they decided to throw their mother in jail. She does not deserve jail and if wanting better for your kids is breaking the law then by all means they need to put about 90% of parents in jail.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      I'm sure you would find it all amusing! Unless you are able to make this women and her household whole you need to hush!

      January 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. uka_rican

    Yes, she violated the law. She should have moved to that district but she took a chance and got caught, all done for her kids. Fine her, make her pay the out of district tuition that is owed and send the kids to the school they are supposed to be enrolled in. After she finishes school she could move to a better area. But now she is ruined in Ohio to be a teacher. Ohio... that was very productive. Good use of even more tax payer money to take it to court.
    I would say that Ohio should audit EVERY school in their state to be sure no one esle is breaking the law like she has... just to be fair. This cannot be an isolated incident.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      That fact that they don't audit shows disregard for their make believe standards and that this GOOD OLE BOYS CLUB purchased with FEDERAL DOLLARS only to be upheld by local PTA hags and racist administrators. Don't y'all know those
      days are gone? It is 2011 oHiO!

      January 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DC

    This mom deserves to be hailed as a Hero!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deep

      Exactly my point.

      January 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Deep

    Wow...Just wow. This is amazing. A person wants to give their kids a better education and she gets jailed and probation. Congratulations Ohio, you just got on my F*%K YOU List. The Onion Atlas calls Ohio the land of 10,000 idiots. I couldn't agree more.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Austin

    KUDOS to you Deborah because you are 1000% right in everything you are saying.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Ilove how they report that it cost the district 30,000 in tuition but doesn't talk to how she saved the other district x number of dollars.. bill the other district for what it would have cost to have her kids there and make her pay the remaining money owed; then call it a day... No reason to give her a felony conviction when there are plenty of people out there doing much worse and getting much less!

    I am not condoning doing something illegal but at least let her make up for it first.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jordan

    This is absurd. I know plenty of families who do this to get into my son's school. To ruin a woman's life, to take a mother away from her children for trying to help her kids get a better education. It's ridiculous. And it seems to me that they had a somewhat legitimate claim to that district.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gigi

    i wonder why, if the neighborhood was so awful, why she didn't have her children living with their father? if custody would have changed none of this would have happened... And what about the father??? he had to have known about this... why isn't he in jail as well...
    this whole situation is tragic and i don't feel like jail and being charged with a felony
    – ruining her career before it could even start was the way to deal with it... because of her not being able to get licensed to teach, she will no doubt stay on assistance... who wins here? what true justice as been served?

    January 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ed

    This is an outrage,the parent should have been fined and made to pay the out of district charges if she wanted her children to go to school in that district. This lady should not have been charged and convicted of a felony for wanting a better life for her children and herself.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Deep

    I mean a single mom going to college. 12 credits away from getting an education degree. If this is not the spirit of American perseverance than what is? The racists idiots on this blog are easy to comment when race is brought into this. Yes, race should be brought into this. Many people I know keep harping about how black people are lazy and here is a mother doing everything she can to do the right thing. What has gone wrong with this country?

    January 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
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