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. Exposo

    Before any change can come, The people have to take a giant step forward and make the realization that this country is being governed by a class of criminals. Only then can they conclude that government must be rabolished by any means necessary and replaced with a government that complies with the founding principles.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meat Puppet

      You have some valid points – none of them relevant to this article
      go campaign for Michelle Bachmann

      September 2, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jack

    Man, this is insane. Tons of people do this all the time. It's the accepted alternative for many people, if you know someone who lives in a district where you want to send your kids, you just use their address. Doesn't the school system know this by now? BTW, all public schools are tuition free, why was that mentioned in the article?

    September 2, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meat Puppet

      You don't know JACK – she is defrauding the system and she had legitimate options – and the taxpayers eat it.
      Guess you are not a taxpayer and think that fraud and cheating is OK – make sure that you vote for Obama again
      your thinking is part of the problem – grow a pair – Hillary has

      September 2, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ric

      @meatpuppet...so many people do this in my nieghborhood because they do not like their options (the schools they are offered are either too dangerous or do not offer the specialized education they seek)...Its easy to wag your finger at them and lecture how morally wrong they are,, but if you actually saw their options (The schools available to them with gangs, high crime rate, etc), you would understand. I am not a parent but I can totally sympathize with them

      September 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Casual Observer

      it does happen all the time especially if you can dunk a basketball or score 4 TD's a game
      another poor soul who has had the misfortune of being caught up in the rules
      play the race card – it seems to work
      but in reality she can't be blamed for trying to protect her kids and get them a better education
      public schools are a joke they are glorified day centers and process kids as opposed to educating them

      September 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. isolate

    This is absurd. I hope Gov. Kasich has the sympathy and the cojones to reject the recommendation and find some way to let her children stay in the school. Ms Williams-Bolar deserves a round of applause for trying to do the best for her kids. Jesus on many occasions castigates the Pharisees for following the letter of the law while ignoring its spirit. The governor should address the parole board in the same terms.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JC

    If everyone was free to decide where their children went to school, without restriction, the entire education system would collapse. The law is clear. She knowingly violated it; and she should accept the consequences. There are plenty of single parents in the US who are facing increasing costs and decreasing salaries; difficult though it may be, the majority are able to find a legitimate way to deal with such dire situations. Why should all these law-abiding parents be slighted and an exception be made merely because her picture is painted across CNN?

    September 2, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ElisabethinCA

      So your ok with a parent who wanted a better school for her kids, and to be safe after school, be a convicted felon for it? Then go live in Iran where they cut your hand off if you steal an apple because your hungry. This is America. The punishment does NOT fit the crime. Next time you go 1 mile over the speed limit I want you sentenced to 3 years in prison because if everybody went 1 mile over the speed limit our streets and freeways would be in chaos.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • martha

      Like she is the only one, it looks as if they are trying to use this poor women as a example. I feel for her.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eltoro

      Thanks ElisabethinCA. This is about the punishment fitting the crime, not whether a crime has occurred. This deserves a fine and nothing more.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoachSteve

      Just make sure you go round up all those coaches who come to the hood and recruit star players to play for them. Let's make sure we go after them at least one. Nah to much like right huh?

      September 3, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tony

    Only in America....totally ridiculous you can not pick the school you want...and that this is based on the neighborhood where you live....
    Fundamentally wrong

    September 2, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charly

      I agree, laws are there for a reason but were talking felonies. Are you kidding me, prosecuters have lost all sense and this case proves it. Check the stats, the US has more people incarcerated per capita than any other place in the world. Prison (jail) is a business and we as a culture have evolved to think so little of human life. Here is another stat. More than 7 million hunemployed have been turned down for employment due to arrest histories. Not conviction but arrest. We are conditioned to believe that if you commit a crime, you should be euthanized and no longer can be productive.. All of you bible thumpers who belive that your savior died for our sins should look at what that means.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. omg

    She shouldn't have lied because she didn'tneed to. The punishment is too harsh for aworking mother attending school though. This is not a crime worthy of 2 felony counts, period. At worst, misdemeanors, and a fine. She had other options that she didn'tlook into. I do believe that parents should have the right to send their kids to theschool of their choosing, and follow the rules according to that district.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • One of us

      Sorry I got confused did you say that a parent should be allow to choose which school their child goes to then say that they should follow the rules as well. OK OMG which is it do what you want or follow the rules. Make up your mind because one negates the other. PS in my state we have had parents fined for this same crime, but they did not get on CNN because they were not minorities. Nice race baiting CNN again. I do believe she should have a fine equal to the amount that she cost the state for this crime, but not a felony charge would be over the top.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. marrod

    I feel for this lady but unfortunately laws have to be followed. The town where I live is having the same issues with children from other districts or towns attending our schools. In a lot of cases their parents can't afford to live here anymore so they move to another town but keep their children enrolled in school. I don't know how they do it.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoachSteve

      Again Tell that to all the coaches who are looking for that star player to play for their school. Coaches been doing it for years.
      I guess that's why it's called Justice I mean JUST US.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Aston

    Tough call. Sorry to all the people who want to polarize the issue. We have laws for a reason, but a parent will do what they need to do. We have school of choice here in Mi and it allows the caring, decent parents to take their child out of a failing Detroit school and place them into a successful one in or out of Detroit. I don't have enough facts to make any kind of judgement on this.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmgold

      I live in Michigan too. But while we are a school of choice state, your choices are only in the same school district. You can't pull your kids from Albion schools to go to Marshall schools without permission. I know this first hand because I pulled my daughter from a public school where she got teased and bullied all the time and moved her to another public school district (and where the kids have been a lot nicer than the other kids).The school district has given her permission for one more year, but if I don't move to the district that I want my daughter to attend until she graduates, then we have to move. They already told us, this is her last year they will approve this.

      It is up to the district that you live in, to decide, if they want to release your child to another district or not.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Exposo

    No one should have to lie in order to send their kids to school free. Anyone who disagrees deserves to be exterminated.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. immobee


    September 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. the prophet

    That is why we need to become an antigovernment society, the people in America are subordinated policed and controlled, join me in my prophecy gir freedom.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Exposo

      Quite so.
      Ehis country has descended intp criminal governance.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. immobee


    September 2, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. askfmb

    This is Racism, in that, a racist have little to no empathy for other race. The 1921 Tulsa Oklahoma is a great example of how a racist would feel about other racist.

    Check it out, however, be prepared for a Reality check for those who minimize the degree a racist would take hate.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • teacher

      Congratulations for the most difficult to read post regarding this article. I am sure that whatever school you attended to learn to write is definitely not where I want to send my kids.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Varmit0

    Why is it that a when person of color is caught breaking a law there is an outpouring of statements about racisim? If a white person broke the same law would the community of the people of color come to the defense of the accused? I think not. When you break the law it doesn't matter the color of your skin or the origin of your birth, you are just busted. No one should get a pass because of their race, color or country of origin. If you want to live here, follow the rules or leave.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • martha

      Why should she have been evicted? It happens all the time like I said before they want to make an example of this poor women and her children. People murder the children and get off on lesser charges....

      September 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoachSteve

      Right and make sure youtell that to all the coaches that come to the hood looking for that kid that can score 3 TD's a game or dunk a basketball. Round them up too or at least one. Maybe? One?

      September 3, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. omg

    the question hereb is: why did the school not catch this for 2 yrs??? Shows you how much they pay attention.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
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