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. concerned angel

    Well I just rather ask what is the email address to this school cause shame on them to hire much less use the tax money for an investigator ..... Why not use that money to better the community than to use an example all it taught me was rich people get away with everything and education don't mean nothing to people. If someone please give me the email or address to this school cause I would gladly tell them a thing or two myself.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mary Bookman

    Can't they focus on some real criminals? You have a single woman trying to do for her kids. Getting an education, working, and doing something with her life. Let her be.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Phil

    Unbelievable. What a farce. This women should be hailed for trying to make a better life for her and her children. Smacks of racism. I hope this gets reversed.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Justice?

    Most schools try to punish parents for not sending their kids to school...again...greed, lawyers, and to many politicians.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Disgusted Mother

    this is gross. The mother cares about the quality of her childrens' education and now is going to prison. The state and courts should be ashamed of themselves. I commend her for standing up for her children.

    As for her using other tax payers money for her children to go to a different school, the father is paying taxes for that district so shouldn't that kind of balance things out????

    January 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cy simon

    Please tell me that no school district in the nation is this evil and black-hearted! Ohio was once a fair-minded state, a beacon but in recent years has become even more racist than neighboring Indiana which has always been every bit as bigoted as many states in the Deep South. Political shifts in Ohio now allow the great unwashed to do anything they wish, even unfairly persecute poor Black people for desperately trying to provide a better life, a better "village" for their at risk children. Unfortunately, the rise in Tea Party mentality is driving the resurgence of bigotry and! They operate under the guise of "ultra-Conservatism" but truth be told, it's all about hate, prejudice and fear-mongering. This is beyond sad.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hold On

      AMEN! I could not have said it better myself

      January 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. star

    Someone is trying to make something of her kids so they dont go down the wrong pathway, someone who is working hard to better herself through education, who did not just make up an address but actually used one where she is a partial resident with a relative...this just stinks.
    If the mother reads these comments, know this: I AM ON YOUR SIDE. This is ridiculous.
    Hey, Ohio-improve all your schools so people dont have to get desperate to save their kids.


    January 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Just Asking

    She lives in subsidized housing; therefore she does not pay school taxes. Was she telling the school that the children lived with her father so they could go to that school and at the same time telling Social Services that they lived with her in order to obtain subsidized housing? All parties are guilty in this case, I do believe.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • gigi

      that's what i'm concerned with... she could have handed custody over to the children's father to ensure their better education but with the children out of her home she would have lost the assistance she has been getting. i'm a single mom of two children have worked two jobs and attended school. i hated the option for education for my children and i opted to put them online for the year till i can relocate... there is always options... regardless, i still feel the punishment is overkill and her not being able to get licensed for her career, she will no doubt stay on assistance...
      doesn't it bother you that the father wasn't charged as well? it bothers me... he knew it was going on and allowed it...

      January 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Again you are deer tagging this woman be cause she is black attendin a predominately white suburban school. Really would you be judging he housing or income source if she was white? No! Now why is this neccessary information at a public school that charges NO TUITION?

      January 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patricia

      Seems to me that a lot of people are making assumptions about what she could have or should have done. Her actions tell me two things. That she was busting her rear end trying to earn her degree to make a better living for herself and her kids and that she cares about her kids education. Why don't you people stop judging her? Had she just sat on her rear end collecting handouts for the rest of her life and didn't care about her kids education she would be getting judged by the same people judging her now. Why don't you try helping instead of being armchair quarterback. When is the last time you tried helping someone in a situation like this? Probably never or else you would realize that getting off of assistance isn't as easy as you assume and often times rules must be bent or else you get stuck in the rut forever.

      January 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cantbelieve

    Ok, so someone who is in the projects, trying to make sure that her children get a better education, and also educating herself. So, now she is ending up in the projects on our tax dollar for life, as she can't teach with a felony record, and her kids get screwed because she lives in the projects and the school district does nothing about the quality of free public education. Did anyone note that we will all be paying for this. This happens in every state that parents put there kids in better schools utilizng other peoples addresses. It's nothing new, at least she has the guts to try and get an education for her children instead of falling into the same cyclical path as others in the situation. What has the world really come to, she pays taxes at the state level, doesn't that fund education? It's not just the county and district level. Unfortunate that an example has been made out of this person. I hope that ALL other people who use an incorrect address for that school are also prosecuted. Can't tell me that she is the only one with that type of school record. Get a grip society!!! There are bigger fish to fry in this world!!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Golden

    I'm all for wanting a better education for your children however what concerns me is that she was staying in a subsidized apartment so she probably did not have to pay much rent. If she had two daughter and was working as a teachers' aide, she also probably was receiving free medical and food stamps. So on one hand it's okay to live in Akron so that you can obtain certain welfare benefits but when it comes to education, you have enough sense to use your father's address so that your children can receive a better education? She knew exactly what she was doing. Using the system to her advantage to obtain certain perks. I highly doubt she was paying taxes to city of Copley and she probably couldn't use her father's address when it came to receiving certain welfare benefits.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Orin

    The more I think about this case the more appalled I become. This is a woman who was working hard to get out of government subsidized housing and get into a profession that would directly impact the next generation. What a role model she could be for struggling students. Isn't getting off of welfare, contributing to society, and doing the best for your children all something mainstream America stands for? But yet this woman is punished in our legal system? Parents are forced to bus their kids out of their local zone, but parents can't choose to do it to get out of a failing school. Her father lived in that district and paid taxes.

    Shame on the judge and shame on the school district. It is time we take a look at ourselves as a nation and what we really want to stand for.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bored In Blk Mtn

    Wow, a Mother wanting the best for her children.. Not wanting them to be dropouts. This is definitely a moral issue, but I can't blame her for what she did...

    January 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      First, the woman had listed the children as living with her to get subsidized housing so she's already got one hand in Uncle Sam's pocket. Then she goes and signs her children up in a school district 45 minutes away and lists their residence as living with her father so they could go to that district. There were 30 to 40 people the school busted for this and they told them to either take the students out of class or pay tuition to avoid prosecution. EVERY ONE of them except for her took this way out so please put the race cards away. Instead of taking their offer she chose to deny that she did anything wrong and decided to change her address on her license to that of her father's house and then accuse the school district of harassment. The district hired a PI to follow her for more than 2 weeks collecting a ton of evidence that she was driving her kids from her house (45 mins away) to the bus stop.
      Even if her story were true, she still was committing Section 8 fraud by claiming the children lived with her to the housing dept.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharon

      What I find ridiculous is that they actually hired a private investigator to investigate 100 families. That money should be going to the children, not a private investigator. I thought the same thing that the father is paying taxes. He should get his money back since he has no qualifying children in the school. I really hope the govenor or someone intervenes.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Yvonne

    Here is the issue: the woman lived in government-subsidized housing. In order to get that government-subsidized housing, she had to be homeless. So, to get the housing, she certified that she had no other home but now she says that she thought her father's home was equally her home? She had some options here. She could have moved into her father's home with her daughters (since they considered it a home) and given up the subsidized housing that then could have been given to someone who truly had no other options – you know, one of many of the single mom and children families living in shelters. I'm sorry but to claim to be homeless to get the subsidized housing and then claim that she lived with her father to get the better school district is wrong. In fact, I don't think she lied to get her daughters a better education at all – they obviously had the opportunity to have that education by staying with the grandfather full time. No, she lied in order to continue to receive subsidized housing when she clearly had somewhere else to live. She shouldn't go to jail though – she should just have to reimburse for the subsidized housing. What about all of the families who don't have parents living in a nice area willing to take them in? They are the ones who should really be helped!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bam Bam

    This is what our country is coming to. A mother gets punished for trying to provide a better life for her children. I have never heard of a felony charge for someone letting their kids skip school or not keeping their children in school. All you people on here condemning her for this, well at least she is better than YOU.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ToddB

    Now that mom is in jail the kids can go live with her dad and get into that school after all.

    January 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
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