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. RoseMcB

    This is a disgrace. Sure, what this mother did was wrong, but she's not a serial killer or bank robber and she wasn't found guilty of abusing her children, as so many parents seem to do lately. Good god! She was simply trying to solve multiple problems confronting her as a single mom and get the best start in life for her kids. So give her a fine and extract a promise from her not to do it again. But this? Five years and probabtion and all that nonsense? They are trying to crucify this poor woman and make an example of her to discourage others. The punishment is so grossly overdone relative to the victimless crime. This parole board and the school district should be ashamed of themselves. Disgusting.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • forreal89

      PEople need to pay for breaking the law

      September 3, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • hillman

      what law did she break ?

      September 3, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steven

    I know a woman in Asheville NC who is very, very wealthy, but very, very cheap, who used the address of one of her properties (a rental house) to avoid paying tuition to the high school for her two sons. She even forced the tenant to let her use her living room for a meet and greet with the teachers! No one has ever gone after her!

    September 2, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • forreal89

      Yeah I heard about her I heard she has a tank in her garage

      September 3, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. Exposo

    America has descended into criminal governance.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Moe

    Why does this make sense and infuriate folks? Why is she going to prison? This compared to Kasey Anthony's actions is almost comical, but some people want to make a big deal out of this...why? Why is it even news? It happens everyday, all around the country. This is stupid.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CoachSteve

    Coaches been tranfering star players for years, Shame on them How dare they. They should be quiet about this how many times coaches have came to the hood sit in parents living room offer to use their address so that kid can play football for them, SHAME I TELL SHAME on them.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sue

    Gov. Kasich has worried that a felony conviction would keep Kelley from becoming a teacher. We really don't need people that lie and cheat teaching our kids. That will be a good thing if this keeps her out of the classroom. There are many good, honest people that are looking for classroom positions. Our country is supposed to be a land of opportunity. That doesn't mean that you can just do whatever you want and let other people pay your way. It means you have the chance to work and earn what you want. Kelley already was living on taxpayers with her housing but that wasn't enough for her. I just wish our school systems would find and prosecute the other cheaters that are out there.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • hillman

      oh shut up Ur giving everybody a headache she did nothing wrong the ones that need to be in jail are the rich people thats who

      September 3, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • tom-e chrstn

      Sue it is apparent that you have never had to struggle before in YOUR life! You have never had to live in fear for your life and your safety and the safety and security of your family. AND, you have always, always, always been honest an truthfully about YOUR going ins and coming outs!?!!

      September 3, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Fed Up

    This woman is a liar and a cheat. First off, let's be honest here, she has allegedly been working on a 4 year degree for the past 23 years??? Give me a break! She is a liar. She lied about where she lived and cheated to get her kids into a better school district. It was wrong. She was provided with an opportunity to pay reasonable tuition by Copley-Fairlawn SD and she refused. Obviously she thought that she deserved freebies. She deserved what she received in the way of sentencing. If Governor Kasich provides clemency, then he is a fool.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • tom-e chrstn

      Hey Fed Up! How many lies have you told in your life?!! Ya think you need to go to prison for the same reasons you told yours?!! YOU ARE HEREBY SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS TO LIFE!

      September 3, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • val

      And just why is it a better school district, shouldn't all children be eligible to have the same education, I don't understand what the crime is, trying to get your kids a better education??? Would this have happened to a white woman????

      September 3, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • hillman

      its very clear why this happened to her she is black if it was a white woman who did the same thing there wouldn't even be a fuss

      September 3, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. oceanmist

    forget about her, what about the idiot comment from Laqueesha.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Trish ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hey, will you guys visit HelpFaye.ORG. a friend of mine is fighting for her life.... Thank you...

    September 3, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. paulm5545

    OK, so now we have the Dream Act. Parents can bring their kids to the US illegally and 1. we don't enforce our immigration laws, and 2. we will now provide financial assistance for their kids to attend college. But a citizen of the US uses a different address to get her kids into a better school and she ends up a convicted felon? America...what a country.

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

      Could not have said it better. We treat iilegals with kid gloves.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Teacher

    Two words: open enrollment. Students should be able to go to ANY public school.
    Communities without open enrollment should examine why they haven't embraced this practice, they might have to look at some ugly truths about their community. All readers should challenge their schools to start open enrollment and prevent another travesty.

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

    Wow. This woman is cuffed? The punishment here does not fit the crime and that's likely why the governor is looking into it and I really do hope that he decides in favor of leniency. She's a working mom who wanted the best for her kids and did what loads of other people do, only they haven't been caught and prosecuted as criminals. Seriously, people do this all the time. It doesn't excuse it, but this is a bit crazy.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. Johnny

    Why are we wasting tax payer's money for this "crime"? Give her a slap on the wrist, a fine and move on. Everyone is hell bent on making examples of all these people who do something that's basically trivial to punish the people who ever think of doing such a "crime".

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

    I agree with fed up.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Teri

    At least she cared enough about her kids to make sure they got the best education she could give them. That's a lot more than a lot of parents these days. I probably would have done the same thing she did if I were in her situation.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • janice

      Amen Teri !

      September 3, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • FluffyBunny

      Agreed. This whole case is ridiculous. I feel for this woman she was trying to help her children. I think the punishment is way too harsh.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
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