Ohio mom who put kids in wrong school was 'deceitful,' parole board says
Kelley Williams-Bolar served nine days in January for her conviction on two counts of falsifying records.
September 2nd, 2011
08:17 PM ET

Ohio mom who put kids in wrong school was 'deceitful,' parole board says

The Ohio Parole Board unanimously recommended against clemency for a mother who lied about her residency so her children could attend school tuition-free in another district.

Kelley Williams-Bolar admitted in a July hearing that she was wrong to enroll her two daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn school district from under her father's address while she lived in subsidized housing in Akron. She claimed she did so because she did not want to leave her daughters home alone after school while she was attending classes at The University of Akron, fearing for their safety after a 2006 burglary.

The eight-panel board concluded that she could have investigated other options, such as looking at other districts, asking friends or neighbors to babysit, or actually moving into her parents' home. Instead, she chose "a pattern of deceitful behavior," the Board wrote in its clemency report, released Friday.

"Ms. Williams-Bolar was faced with a no more difficult situation than any other working parent who must ensure that their children are safe during, before and after school hours in their absence," it said in its ruling. "Most parents find legitimate and legal options to address this issue. Ms. Williams-Bolar's only response was to be deceitful."

The recommendation goes on to Gov. John Kasich, who expressed sympathy for Williams-Bolar earlier this year after her sentencing.

"Although we are disappointed with the Parole Board's recommendation, we remain confident that justice will ultimately prevail," Williams-Bolar's lawyer, David Singleton, said. "The Governor, not the Parole Board, has the last word on Kelley's clemency petition."

A Summit County jury convicted Williams-Bolar in January of two felony counts of tampering with records. She was sentenced to a five-year suspended sentence and two years of community supervision.

The case drew nationwide attention nationwide, raising debate about equal access to quality education and allegations of selective prosecution.

Opinion: Mom jailed for sending kids to school wanted a choice

But Williams-Bolar had no complaints about the education her children were receiving in the Akron City School District, the Board wrote in its decision, citing arguments from Williams-Bolar's attorneys.

"This was not a case about race or civil rights and Ms. Williams-Bolar has never made this claim," according to the clemency report. "This is a case where Ms. Williams-Bolar was worried about the safety of her daughters, and has been severely punished, and the collateral consequences will be devastating for her future."

Williams-Bolar wrote in her application for clemency that the felony convictions would prevent her from obtaining a license in teaching or social work, which she has been working toward on and off since 1988.

She told the Board she was not sure when she would go back to college, and ultimately acknowledged that she has to raise her GPA before can gain entry into a school of education, according to the clemency report.

She has been able to keep her position with the Akron Public Schools as a teacher's assistant, but her attorney stated that her employment is contingent upon the outcome of her appeals and the clemency decision, according to the report. She also has been able to maintain her residence with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Prosecutors claimed that Williams-Bolar had plenty of time and opportunity to end her deceptions before she was indicted in October 2009 trial. Instead, she continued to "fight and build on her deceptions," the Board wrote.

Williams-Bolar told the Board that while she continues to reside at the Hartford Avenue address in Akron, she used her father’s address when she renewed her driver’s license a few weeks before the July clemency hearing.

"She does not seem to understand nor accept the fact that the Black Pond address is not her legal residence, when she has resided and continues to reside at the Hartford Avenue address," the Board wrote.

Gov. Kasich does not have to follow the Board's recommendation. Days after taking office, he launched an inquiry into the case and asked the parole board to review it.

"Karen and I work hard to make a better future for our girls so when I first heard about Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar’s case last week it really struck me, as it has many other people," he said in February, according to the Beacon Journal.

"Our laws exist for a reason and they must be enforced, but the idea that a woman would become a convicted felon for wanting a better future for her children is something that has rightly raised a lot of concern with people, including me."

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Filed under: Crime • Education • Ohio
soundoff (382 Responses)
  1. Justen beiber

    It puts the lotion on the skin

    September 4, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. JP0

    What a country. The letter of the law supersedes the spirit of the law. Thus will it always ever be, the revenge of the C students.

    September 4, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. ImpishLisa

    This happens all the time and I don't blame the people doing it. I will NOT send my kids to the central ohio columbus public schools. They fail over and over to meet guidelines. I am barely getting by to keep my three in private schools that we work damn hard to pay for and we get NO TAX breaks! We have no extra money. Most people wouldn't make the choices she did, and most wouldn't live like I have to, to take care of my kids.

    All you judgemental people can bite a big one.

    September 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. IDECLAIR

    All children in America should have sound, safe, and successful schools to attend. No mother should have to be so desperate to get their child a better education.
    IDECLAIR
    IDECLAIR MEDIA, THE IDECLAIR SHOW

    September 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim Davis

    Test

    September 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim Davis

    So IAM the bad guy for expecting you people to respect and follow the law. Jam it sideways ! Bleeding heart irresponsible gutless wimps. You have made it quite obvious you have never made a personal sacrifice to do the right thing. Now come and get me. Oh, and if I made any Typos, SUE ME

    September 4, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Davis

      @ Dubya, JPO and Superman.... The Scrotum awaits

      September 4, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Justen beiber

    Maybe this criminal will get a movie deal for cheating the system. This us the American way. Lie, cheat and take the easy way out. This women id a bad role model for her kids. Her kids will grow up in the getto because the mother is yo lazy to work hard to provide for her kids.

    September 5, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jim Davis

    @ Supermann. "It" is spelled "it", not "Wasting my time" , mr. Smart Guy. Now get off Mommy's Computer, have your milk and cookies, and go to sleep like a good little what-ever you are.

    September 5, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jim Davis

    Hey Justen Beiber, you type as bad as I do (lol) but you are correct.... She will get off with a slap on the wrist and her sympathizers will make her rich by buying her book. Jezzzzooy.

    September 5, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. AnonObserver

    If "deceitful" is the criteria for putting someone in prison, then every politician in America would be living in a jail cell.

    September 5, 2011 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. funky bunch

    A jury (her neighbors) found her guilty.

    September 5, 2011 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. RH

    The governor says, ""Our laws exist for a reason and they must be enforced, but the idea that a woman would become a convicted felon for wanting a better future for her children is something that has rightly raised a lot of concern with people, including me." He is spot on. This woman did everything for the right reasons. How about cleaning up that neighborhood, Akron?

    September 5, 2011 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin

    You Americans need to wake up! You took forever to free the African slaves and now your justice system is taking forever to treat their ancestors as equals. I am Canadian. I put my kids in a better school in another district; and my only punishment is my kids are not eligible for school bus transport. I have to drive my kids to school...and this woman is considered a felon!!! She's just trying to get her kids a good education for God's sake!!! Let's face it, America is just trying to keep blacks in the projects...and away from a good education.

    September 5, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
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    September 5, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Russ

    Another case where the Republicans have it wrong.

    September 5, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      This is obviously the easy way out for the government. Punish the people that are in need and keep them "where they belong". I believe the kids are our most important asset. And if she is going to college to TRY to get an education to BETTER her life to ultimately get her out of her situation...isn't that a good thing? Let her children go to that school and let her get her life back together!

      September 5, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
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