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. George

    Racism and Segragation embeded into Law.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Reggie from LA

    Let me get this straight. A woman in Florida brings in the police after her child has been missing for a month. She will get a book and movie deal and constant protection. Maybe a few nude poses millions. This woman tries to protect her child and she is in jail...still...and they want to keep her there. I see out of districting often, even after I was held to a hard line for my kids and I'm not complaining or ratting. Morons. Every one of them.

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

      The system is sick, isn't it? this is wrong on so many levels

      September 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ridiculous

    There is no way she should be convicted of anything. People lie to get legal school transfers all the time. We live in a district in which the schools are paired – our well-to-do elementary with one in a low income neighborhood. My sister didn't want to have to deal with the bussing and the extra school, so she just made up some BS about how they did not want their kids going to school with poor kids because her husband is a cop, and if he arrests someone's parent they might retaliate. Total BS – they just don't want their kids being bussed or going to school with poor kids. They are just lazy classists. Just because this mom was not sophisticated to make up a good lie like my sister does not mean she should be punished.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • tmckee

      The reason is right in your post: "People lie to get legal school transfers all the time"

      September 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tatiana

    Don't they have real criminals to prosecute?? Yes she did lie but it was to get better education for her kids. Where is the crime in that? Did she steal from anyone??? This country is getting to be ridiculous.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You don't see anything wrong with cheating?

      September 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      so then you are saying that it is all right to lie?

      September 2, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      so you are saying you have NEVER lied to improve your situation. Lying is wrong. JUDGING. She did lie that was wrong, but they dont want her to have the education b/c those ppl paid i understand, but wait?...didn't yawl STEAL this country, my bad. ISNT she WORKING to TRY TO GET AN EDUCATION so she can get OUT of the ghetto., so NOW her kids dont have no education and they are gonna be criminals and come KNOCKING on YOUR door to steal your precious money b/c you didn't give a crap about somebody poor. But it's not your problem right? am Im an african american immigrant..oh ok. 5 years no job, kids back in the system..how is that FAIR. if she was right and lived in the hills would she get 5 years in prison.maybe if she was poor. martha stewart got 6 MONTHS..#givemeabreak let the punishment fit the crime, the judge should be in jail.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • tmckee

      Yes, she stole from tax payers. That's me.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • amused123

      No. What I, the poster, and many others agree on is that in there are far more important issues and crimes before time is spent on this.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      sorry bout the TYPOS im writing so fast b/c im MAd. If she was white and poor she MIGHT get 5 years, but MARTHA STEWART got 6 months and she LIED! give me a break. #doublestandard bsides if you were educated in ghetto schools you would not be as coldhearted. Those ppl in the courtroom jaywalk and probably dont put shopping carts back, i think they are made b/c they feel like she stole their money. Why not pay the fine, instead of JAIL...doesnt that cost more or is the 'sheriff' letting other blk ppl know they better not try the same thing..#jimcrow

      September 2, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      Im sorry ppl STEAL everyday i'd rather somebody steal to get an education so they are not draining the system then be on wall street stealing when no–one is benefitting except them. NOBODY is saying what she did wasnt wrong, but do ALL those ppl in the school system DESERVE to have those kids in that school..Sorry try again. its not fair and you know it. Now she's just a criminal to you, nothing more. inequality is a trip...

      September 2, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Greedyrichpplesuck: I and most of my hard working friends, relatives and neighbors are very far from being rich. We all work very hard to support our own families AND to subsidize all of the people on welfare, subsidized housing, food stamps, medicare, and on and on. I don't give a darn what the heck you think of me, and you know why? Because I am so darn busy working to support you! When people refer to "the government" owes us this and "the government" owes us that, what they are really saying is we, the working people owe them, because we are the ones who pay the taxes to support them............we ARE the government.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      @jennifer you are not supporting me or any related to me, b/c my ancestors were escaped slaves who went to school became lawyers and teachers, maam i have a degree and a job, i am supporting your ignorance b/c you don't know that everyone on welfare doesn't not look like the woman in this picture. sorry try again. You only know what you see on the news. Most ppl do not like to report on their on flaws, therefore its easier to talk about someone else. #thebeaminyoureye no hard feelings tho-

      September 3, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Fabian

    You all people r stupd

    September 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      you certainly sound like the stupid one "You all people r stupd" sheesh.................. Guess you didn't go to one of the fancy school districts..............

      September 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      AND, i went to privates school(my whole life) #OBAMASKIDS my fam paid EVERYBILL, so perhaps a little compassion will do- if you are generous it comes back around to you, those ppl arent punishing her sin, i think they are punishing her poverty..#justmyopinion but lying is wrong, robbing her of any future is worse..#JIMCROW

      September 3, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      @jennifer if i hada went to the schools in my hood i would b #ROBBINGYOURIGHTNOW and not justifying my case in ENGLISH dont sleep education benefits everyone..you want less criminals and folks on welfare you build better schools for EVERYONE! peace.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. EYERIS625


    September 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. damn yank

    if she was a goldman sacs ceo she'd get a free pass and a 25 million dollar check in hand....and all she did was put down her family's address as her own....

    September 2, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bill formally of Akron

    Akron schools are horrible. My daughter, now an adult, learned more at home from me about history than she ever learned in the Akron Public Schools... Important things, like the rise of our country from colonization, WWII, WWI, The Civil War, History of Europe and so on. Her math skills are attributed to her tenacity and her reading skills come from her desire to learn. But, even more importantly; she never felt safe in the Akron system. Teachers are lazy and apathy pervades the system there, I don't blame that woman one bit.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. winston downhill

    "Don't pardon mom who lied"....i thought this was a casey anthony story

    September 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Better Off

    My mother did EXACTLY the same thing for me when we lived in a not-so-great neighborhood (because she was divorced and that was all she could afford) with a high school close by that was a disaster. We were not very far from another district that had a far superior school, and so she used a friend's address in that district, and that's the school I went to. And I was far better off for it. Everyone I knew that went to the lousy nearby school didn't go to college. The school I went to, it was assumed you would go to a great university, and being in an environment like challenges and encourages you to do better. I went to a great university, like my peers, and did graduate studies as well. I applaud this woman for trying to make a better life for her kids. She broke the law because the districting requirements for public schools are absurd and unfair to parents who cannot afford to send their kids to better schools within the same system. Lousy neighborhoods breed lousy schools, and are filled with lousy students. Vouchers would alleviate this, but teachers unions don't want that, because it would shut down said lousy schools and nobody wants to lose their job, so they block such legislation every chance they get.

    Shame on the school system for pursing prosecution. I hope the Gov grants clemency, because no mother should have her and her kids' lives ruined because of inherently backward policy, which the education establishment wants to keep in place as is, simply because they want to keep their jobs.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      I totally disagree. I worked very hard to move to a good school district where the taxes were extraordinarily high in order for my children to attend good schools. I didn't work that hard to subsidize someone else's children's education. I already subsidize the poor with housing, food, healthcare, etc. etc. etc.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Better Off

      Yeah, my mother worked hard too. Five jobs at one point. But, she never finished college, so her opportunities were necessarily limited. You sound like a NYer, and things work a little different there, but even so, I disagree with you. In CA, your taxes paid for the entire school system (dozens of districts), not just the tiny district you live in. So, your money is distributed everywhere. The residency requirement is just to take care of the distribution of students, not where you tax money goes.

      Districting like the one you are in is the problem. And vouchers are the solution to that problem. Let the slacker kids with their unmotivated parents stay in their awful schools. But for the motivated parents and kids, who just are poor, it's pure torture to stay there, because their parents can't afford it. And it's not just the taxes, its the entire cost of living to be in a better district.

      It's not like this woman wasn't working, or trying to better herself, or her kid's future. If she were lazy, you could blame her, but she isn't. She's just not as well-off as you are.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Ridiculous 2

      Better Off, I'm glad you were able to go to a better school and overcome your situation. While I support public charter schools and magnet programs (I'm a product of several public magnet schools), I know these are just band-aids. Vouchers also fall in the band-aid category. The only real solution is for every public school to be a safe, student-centered learning environment.

      September 3, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. SSampson

    This is insane – a waste of taxpayers dollars – she shouldn't have doctored records and lied – sure – but this case screams for community service and a conditional discharge – There is nothing she did that is 'evil'....misguided, perhaps (if there WERE in fact other solutions) but not evil

    The Law should use common sense and not be rigid.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • tmckee

      I agree. The point of the punishment should to discourage this behavior. This needs to be stemmed. It really is theft. It isn’t harmless.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      theft?? Im sorry we are talking about EDUCATIOn i was getting off but something is just WRONG..ok so why should some kids go to school in mess and violence and others on the hill..i mean the books in the building should say the SAME thing. I mean otherwise why go to school if im only going to be a janitor if the QUALITY of education in the hood was equal i dont think this would have even happened at all!! I mean come on! If the woman wanted to send her daughters there because they had gold faucets ok that's understandable JAIL. but if she tried to send them so they could LEARN, that is a travesty. How it happened was WRONG, but whats WRONG is the system she is locked out.. where's Opfah..send them girls to south africa..#notmessingwithfolksanymore

      September 3, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. Linda

    I think it is outrageous that this case was prosecuted. This woman was trying to get the best education and care for her kids...I agree that if she were one of the "Wall street gang" who nearly destroyed this country financially, she would never have been prosecuted. Why don't we offer better quality schools and after care for all children equally in this country....It is shameful...My heart goes out to this woman and her family.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    I would not have my property taxes going to people who do not live in the same community. The reason I choose to pay higher property tax is school. Even Obama sends his kids to private school. Get over it US we live in a capitalistic society; make it socialist and our economy is doomed !!!!

    September 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Mike, good point about Obama sending his girls to the Quaker school.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Better Off

      Your entire cost of living is higher for a better school, not just taxes. Your home is more money, and by extension, your maintenance is more. You want public housing in your neighborhood? I doubt it. So the poor are left with awful schools.

      Second, since Obama sends his kids to private school, part of the taxes he pays aren't being "used" for his kids' education.

      Third, public education in and of itself is a "socialist" idea. Originally, it was started and championed by Christians who thought the poor should not have to suffer their entire lives for a want of education. You can't fall back on "capitalism" when talking about PUBLIC schools. If you're such a capitalist, send you kids to private school. I do. Precisely because the public education system everywhere is a total mess, even in the good districts. So, that means my property taxes are available to pay for some other kid to go to public school if they want in my good district, and I'm OK with that. My tax burden doesn't change a bit.

      September 3, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • tmckee

      Great point, Mike. greedyrichpplsuck, when you steal money, it's theft. Stop being so emotional and look at this from a logical perspective. You seem to be the only one concerned with that color she.

      September 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. larry

    love the comments, theyre all so ignorant. this woman had the chance to not even be charged with a crime, she blew it.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Larry....so, your comment is so brilliant? You must have gone to one of the exclusive school districts.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Larry....so, your comment is so brilliant? BTW, I agree that she blew her chance.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      wow the day its a crime to send you kids to a better school is the day America has lost its soul..there must of been a reason she did what she did did they school have gold water fountains or was it that they didnt have metal detectors in class. Wow...so she was stealing an education that should be free..pity when the poor steal to have a meal that is a sad sad day.I guess you guys are right she didnt work for it so she doesnt deserve that. wow #jimcrow

      September 3, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sean

    What's wrong with lousy school? I grew up in a lousy school... and I'm a professor now. Though most kids from good schools end up better, good kids in lousy schools will do even better. It's the mindset....

    September 2, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
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