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. Jessica

    This is outrageous. A felony for sending your kids to school out-of-district? Really? Aren't there better uses for the money and effort besides putting a mother in jail for trying to send her kids to school someplace safer?

    September 5, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jim Davis

    I'm going to College to better myself and make a better life for my 10 kids.. I feel that I should not have to have an inspection sticker on my car, because I don't have the money right now. I put a fake sticker on the windshield to fool the Police. If I get caught, I should not have to pay a fine. Every body does it. Darn Republicans !

    September 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HGH


    September 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      And yet your either here or trying to move here. Go lay down by your dish and chew on your pork bone.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • CC

      You're stupid and shouldn't be allowed to speak. Google the term you wish to learn about son. America does have problems but it is not a fascist state.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • CC

      Also I'm not from the states but like them very much. They do a lot of good things but the rest of the world including it's own citizens only focus on the bad things. It's stupid useless 13 year old that don't know how good they have it. So they throw out terms they know nothing about. It's one of the best countries in the world. Read a book or something and learn something instead of just making uneducated comments.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kerry

    Didn't it say the children's father LIVED in what would be the Copley-Fairlawn school district?

    It's not as if neither parent resided where the children were enrolled.

    This single-mtoher didn't just jot down an address from a mailbox, the children's father lived in the school district.

    Isn't it possible, that despite being estranged, the father and mother agreed that Dad would be available to the children after school until their mother could collect them each day? I don't see where this women has done anything warranting this treatment there is nothing criminal in estranged parents agreeing to work together for the good of their children.

    It was about logistics....nothing else. DAD LIVES IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT, end of story.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leviathan

      The article states that her father, not the children's father, lives in the other school district. The father of teh children is unmentioned in the article.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. silerking

    Hey she is already on the edge, that's the time to be within EVERY law. Ya lost your chance on the first (or more) mistake(s) that she made.

    September 6, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. disgusted

    Holy Cow! She got a stiffer sentence than Casey Anthony. Shame on you America.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Blacks and gays ain't got nobody but Jesus!

    This is truly a sad situation — a mother being torn from her children b/c she wanted something better for them, but the world won't let her have that. I'd love to meet the HEARTLESS board members with all their infinite wisdom! 🙁

    September 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BAYBK82

    So let me get this straight – the woman is trying to BETTER HERSELF and the lives of her children. She used her dad's address, not one stolen from a phonebook. And she does this so her children would BE SAFE AND GET A BETTER EDUCATION. And she is being convicted on a felony. Do you think if she had "asked nicely" they would have said yes???? We ALL know that she would have been denied and red flagged without a second thought!!!!!

    Yet and still CASEY ANTHONY HAS WALKED FREE AND IS BEING FREED MULTI MILLION DOLLAR DEALS....is this country really seeing where it is going????? IS this country really sitting there and allowing this to happen????

    September 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Stacey

    The punishment does seem harsh in light of her reasons... however, law is law. She made errors in judgement, but compassion should also be shown. Perhaps, a compromise on the punishment and a chance for Williams-Bolar to do right and find an alternative way to care and assure safety for her kids in her absence – by any means mentioned in the article or by an alternative. However, it should also be a warning to her not to repeat the same mistake again.

    September 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bigbill

    She is a poor black women and that is why the parole board made the decision they did.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AGuest9

    This is sad and disgusting! She lives in subsidized housing, but is working, not laying around on welfare. She wants her children to have a better life, and not be single parents, themselves.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jake

    Geez.....fine her $20 per child and be done with it. Have the kids "residency" changed to their grandfather's house so they can go to the school or as the article states, she can move her family to her dad's house. End of story.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. My two cents

    I "WANT" a lot of things for my kids, but I can only give them so much. I have no sympathy for someone who already gets a lot of things for free (subsidized housing, probably going to college on the taxpayers dime) and still wants more.

    September 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sosofresh

    In the end, here is where the fault lies for receiving a felony conviction:
    1. Ms. Williams-Bolar and her attorney. I'm almost certain they would have been given the opportunity to plea out at some point. This would have likely resulted in diminished charges, and almost certainly no felony conviction. She decided she wanted to fight instead. Either her attorney was unable to talk her out of it OR, much worse, he encouraged her to fight. A good attorney would have done everything in his power to have her accept a plea if it resulted in lesser, non-felony charges.
    2. Potentially overzealous prosecutor. Prosecution gets their feelings hurt by refusal to plea, and drops the piano on her.
    It is NOT the judiciary's fault, however. Charges were brought, and Williams-Bolar was clearly guilty of said charges = felony conviction.
    also... brb, working on getting my teaching degree for the last 23 years.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Court

    This is crazy! I identify with this woman because for three years by mom used her fiance's address in order to send me to a better school out of district. I can really say the schools one attends really impacts the choices one makes in life!

    September 8, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • JamBit

      Wow OHIO. Thanks for the help in making up my mind of moving over there. I think ill stay in the best state there is. WASHINGTON! (BTW. NOT DC)

      September 13, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
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