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. Buggysmom

    This is insane. We live in a larger community, pay taxes for the school district we live in and I prefer to send our kids to a smaller school district next town over. Not as much choice in classes as the bigger school district we live in, but, smaller, more strict and personable. I transport my children daily. I applied for transfer (we live in Texas) they submit the info to the state and the money that the state pays the schools for each child who attends gets shifted to the school they go to. I still pay taxes in my town for that school. The taxes that they allot for schools go to the school that my child does NOT go to. BUT, the money the state pays for each child attending public school gets moved over to the district they go to. No biggie. Every year I apply for the transfer and as long as my child is doing well and not a behavioral problem that school readily accepts my child's transfer application. No lying, no "cheating", but, a CHOICE. Which is what I thought America was all about. The transferring school loves the transfer students because the funding helps the school. It's a win/win.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. slider

    She should have studied Clinton's techniques. He was good at lying and getting a pass.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Lol

      and a$$ 🙂

      September 14, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. 20 Year Veggie

    What? She didn't do anything I wouldn't have done if they were my babies. Ask friends to babysit? Really? That's assuming an awful lot! It's disgraceful that they would go after this poor woman. I'm not into lying or deceit, but the upper 1% has made it so hard on the rest of us, using lying and deceit, that sometimes you have to bend the rules in order to make life better for your family. Shocked Ohio doesn't have bigger fish to fry than children being safely educated.

    September 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Survon1

    You zealous police state fanatics have better things to do than concern yourself over a mother doing the best for her child.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. John Kantor

    Ohio is starting to look a lot like Soviet Russia.

    September 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. EqualRights4All

    Education IS important! And we learn as much if not more outside the classroom than in it. Great teaching example, "mom". There were other options but she chose the wrong one, the easy one, knowing full well it would jeopardize her kid's futures. All she had to do was move in with her father if she wanted them to go to that school. She failed her kids more than anything. Now blame Ohio. What else is new?

    September 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CuriousG

      I agree. She knew it was wrong. Now she needs to pay her dues.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rsmik

    they threw the book at her because she already has enough help – her salary is paid by the taxpayer, her housing is paid by the taxpayer and her college education is paid by the taxpayer.

    September 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • CuriousG

      Boy, she is milking it and still wants more.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Maggie

    That Board is crazy! This mom was trying to protect her children. Isn't that was Mom's do? OK! So she's getting subsidized help. The woman is trying to help herself out by going to school which means she will one day be able to better provide for her children and not accept subsidized help. Has anyone thought about the kids? I'm sure not!!!!!!! As a parent we want what's best for our kids. I gonna bet the people that charged her have their kids in a private school not a public school. I think she was right to worry about her kids the way she did. You go girl!!!!!!!

    September 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fed up

    People do this all the time when they move outside the school district and still live close enough for their kids to go to the previous one. They do so to keep from disrupting the flow of the school year since not all schools are at the same pace, so that the kids can finish extracurricular activities like football and basketball for the season, and to reduce the amount of stress that a move involves that can affect performance in school. However, I have never heard of those parents getting prosecuted and it's just as fraudulent to withhold changes of address as it is to tell a school the kids live with their own father. Either there is more to this story or this is a matter of discrimination. It might not have to do with race. I wouldn't be surprised if it has more to do with income.

    September 14, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. crabman


    September 14, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. emmyk

    So glad I live in Minnesota where we have open enrollment. Your child can go to any school in the state, as long as you provide the transportation if it is out of your district.

    September 14, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Don

    She admits she didn't do it for a better education, it was so her kids could go to their grandparent's house after school. Period.

    She also lied about her income so they could get free lunch, which I'm sure is the best for her kids.

    September 14, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. STVUstudent

    If she were white, this would never have been an issue, and it sure wouldn't have been a felony...

    September 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • gug

      The rules are in place and you have to follow them.....the jails are full of people with good excuses.

      September 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Deanna

    What will fry her behind is that she got a license with fake info.

    September 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sandy

    Ok. She did wrong and should be punished in some fashion...fines or community service. But is this a felony? Ridiculous. People get away with murder with a lower penalty. I do not see how this rises to the level of a felony. Embezzelment, car theft, assault...that is a felony. In this case she lied, but that is all she did. How many of you have lied, even a little bit, on an application? Some prosecutor was out to make a name for himself or set an example. Hope the Governor brings some logic to this madness.

    September 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
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