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. s kel

    afse I have one word for you.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. s kel

    ok three words

    September 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. art

    The panel must be investigated for mental competency to judge. Unless you are in her shoes, don't friggin judge her. All she wanted was a good education for her kids. All she wanted was to get to school herself so she could have a better life. Where's the equal opportunity america?

    September 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Art, then she should work like the rest of us. It is her choice to live in subsidized housing and live off other taxpayers. If she wants her kids to go to a better school, then she should work to ensure that happens. I believe her punishment was harsh but she should not have been sending her kids to that school when she did not live in the district.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      I agree with Kim. The woman was wrong, deceitful, dishonest and a liar. However, I too think the punishment was too harsh. But, for God's sake, I am sick to death of working so hard to support so many!

      September 2, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rodney Nadal

    A non-violent mother in handcuffs, who's children now have to be cared for at taxpayer expense, and raised by someone who may not care as much for them, and who may be a secret abuser or molester. So terrible. Pathetic. And they wonder why Akron is thought of as one of the armpits of America. Just proved it again... And we "pay" these idiots to make these decisions? All for what, an "infraction" for which a fine or community service is appropriate?

    September 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. k

    wow..another black woman trying to do better, put in her place

    September 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nancy

    There have been many cases like this where parents use a relative's address so they can enroll their children in a preferred school district. The usual procedure is to notify the parent that the child can no longer attend the school. To waste the public's time and money on this issue and destroy the future of this mother and her family is the real crime.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin

    That is great PR by the the head of that police department, having a black female cop escorting a black woman. He did his PR homework!

    September 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer


      October 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NukeTim

    This is one of the most idiotic cases I've heard about. Plenty of crooks to go after, but they go after this woman. Wrong wrong wrong.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Muggsy3

    "...obtaining a license in teaching or social work, which she has been working toward on and off since 1988?" 20 plus years?? I dont buy it sorry. sounds like more finagling the system.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jimmy

    It's good to see that this $hthole of a town is so crime free they have time to go after a mother who just wants a better education for her children.

    September 2, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bigred

    First let me say that I am a older white man. I find it interesting that a black woman lies about her address to get her kids into decent schools and is arrested, imprisoned, and will do jail time. Casey Anthony, a young white woman, lied to investigators, lied on the stand, made false statements to police, and lied to a judge and she is free and living in a mansion. I ask everyone. Is this the sort of America that makes any sense whatsoever?

    September 2, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You do realise that it was the juries who convicted her, and relaeased Casey Anthony. Its us, the american people, who are doing this.I only wish that the idiots on this blog comment section, who are blaming the government , would actually place the blame correctly.

      September 3, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. kros

    I can't believe that a judge in a sound state of mind will give this woman two felony counts for such a minor offense.That will prevent her from ever becoming a teacher.
    I can't believe I am reading this.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kim

    I am a mom and first of all I think this mothers punishment was a little extreme BUT if seh wants her kids to go to a nice school, then she needs to work her butt off like the rest of us. She has felony convictions, so if she was really concerned about her kids, she would not be a felon. She lived in subsidized housing whch means she pays very little taxes, if any so why should her kids get to attend a better school than other kids whos parents work to do the right thing?

    September 2, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Correction she may not have been a felon prior to this but it is my understanding she has some sort of criminal record before this. I believe people should work for what they get and not be given handouts. I have had a job since I was 16 years old and have went to school.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rodney Nadal

    Oh my God ... Unless that school district checks Every address and verifies with a record of utility bills verified through the utility companies, and then imprisons All the offending parents for the past five years, they are setting themselves up for a justifiably Huge lawsuit for a violation of civil rights by discrimination. And I am white and I am mad about this abuse and waste.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. stubby

    Tuition-free? If she enrolled in the other district to avoid tuition, that is shameful. She used her fathers address to avoid school costs, To renew your license using your fathers address suggests that she was going to use this ID for proof that she lived in another district. She couldn't live at her fathers house because she would lose her govt paid housing. It all revolves around money

    September 2, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
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