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. Maude

    Wow, I am glad I live in Canada- you people are crazy over there.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anakaraya23

      not all americans are!! There are actually some sane people here!! But ya, we do have our share of crazy people.

      September 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gort01

      why cant her kids go to whatever school she wants them to??

      September 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatacrock

      And please stay there, you're way too stupid to live anywhere else..

      September 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 4wonderland

    There is NO WAY anyone would have convicted a white married woman who did the same thing. I'm not so sure about a white divorced woman. What a bunch of sanctimonious prigs. Hopefully Ohio's gov. has some compassion and won't burden this poor woman with two felony convictions on he record for life.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • james

      First, what exactly is a "prig". Second, I don't remember reading any verbiage in the crimimnal code that states the color of a person will have a bearing on whether or not the law applies to said person. What a great example you must be teaching your children.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. JDon

    The Governor is incorrect in saying that she wanted a better future for her children. She wanted a better NOW. And she could have followed legal channels to attain that, but instead, she took the route of lying. She deserves the punishment for the crime.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • courtney

      Do you hate women, black people or both? Or are you just a horrible person? The punishment is incredibly disproportionate to the crime.

      September 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • psychmeout45

      Exactly what other channels/options are you referring to? White privilege always fails to understand/acknowledge that fair and equal access in this country is nothing more than myth and rhetoric.

      September 27, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. courtney

    Felony? That is insane.

    September 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mom2two

    I live in a smaller town with one simple district, yet four different elementary (K-5) schools. Each school has a certain corraled area of town that you are to prove you live within. Here we had the same issue for years, people lying about where they lived so they could get their child into the certain elementary school. Now you have to prove via DL, utility bills (not cell either) or credit card bill. Some people then enrolled kids in the only (expensive) private school here (making us have a total of 6 elementary buildings if you count the middle school). I do not agree with what people who deceit the system do either, however the punishment is a bit harsh to me.
    Anyways, to the comments about being able to pick – n- choose the school (or district for that matter), this is something maybe governments should consider: If you can prove you have a tax paying relative who either doesn't have kids or small kids already in the district (Ex: Grandparent, great aunt/uncle, etc.) you can send your kid there permitting space in the school/district. I mean even family without kids or grown kids do help support their neighborhood schools right? Just a thought.

    September 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rick Cross

    There's nothing racial here. She carried on a campaign to willfully falsify records to get and keep her children in a different school. She willingly committed felonies, was convicted of them and wasn't even sent to prison. I don't see how the punishment is disproportionate to the crime. For the governor to say, "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..." is BS. She's a convicted felon for her crimes. Period. If she had chosen to commit other felonies to get a better future for her children, would he feel the same way? She could have gone for money... grand theft auto, armed robbery, etc.

    September 23, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. KeithTexas

    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."

    September 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Post this

    Look at Casey Anthony-White female. If it was a black female it would have been Prison and speedy trail.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dani3l

    Deceitful, yes. Felony? No, Clemency is called for.

    September 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. amanda0285

    "The case drew nationwide attention nationwide, " ........... I stopped reading after this.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. whatacrock

    I've seen druggies do less time, but lets lock up a harmless parent for lying to the school. Whoopy flippin doo, i'd do the same thing and p i s s on the school.

    September 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mr reality

    I would like to point out that people pay taxes that go to a towns school district. when people from outside of this district decide to send their kids to school where they do not live for whatever reason, legitimite residents taxes go up. I have first hand experiance with this problem living in a first ring suburb of buffalo.I have seen a car drop off a bunch of kids at the bus stop at a relatives house , no sweat off their back. but my taxes go up and up.

    October 1, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sam18166

    I just to introduce myself to you all. I am a very nice person which loves helping to other people. So... hi every body! See you around!

    October 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sam29417

    I'd like to introduce myself to everyone. I'm a nice person who likes helping to other people. So... hey every body! See you around!

    October 25, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ron

    This is morally wrong, and I think we all know it. The way we itianmsder our school system is flawed. In my opinion, we should throw all school taxes into a general fund, and EVERY school should then get equal resources. That way, no school should be able to have better resources just because it's located in a higher tax district. It would also help bring back neighborhood schools, which would allow low-income families a much better chance to participate in their children's education in a much more comprehensive manner. I think if all schools were created equal, then all kids would have the opportunity for a decent education.What the legal system and the school system has done to this family is reprehensible. Jeers.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
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