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."

Post by:
Filed under: Crime • Education • Ohio
soundoff (382 Responses)
  1. Ridiculous

    I can't believe lying about your address is a FELONY. A DWI isn't even a felony here in Texas. Having that on her record can make it much harder for her to get a job if she ever leaves or is laid off from her current position. And that will just compound her problems. I don't understand why we keep criminalizing poverty in this country. And for all of you self-righteous people out there with your "tough on crime" stance, have you never broken any laws? Never sped, or run a stop sign or red light? Never done a single illegal drug, or maybe never smoked or drank before you were of age? We all break the law from time to time, and most of us never get caught because they're small things that really don't hurt anybody. She just got unlucky.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Herndon Davis

      As a result of her lying she benefited by receiving public allocated funds in $30,000 tuition breaks for her children plus the cost the school board's $6,000 investigation as previously reported in another CNN new story.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      i was very vocal about this, but they are sending her to jail for Fraud, the article is not reporting everything, i will read the case myself, she said she was in the military when she got the bill for the school. it was wrong, but something must have made her desperate enough to do all of it, if her patterns are constantly about the living arrangements was she just wanting more or was something else terrible going on where she lived..why didn't leave?? I dunno, but whatever it is still greedypplsuck if you dont do what you are supposed to you shouldnt have something but there is mercy cuz how many of us dont do what we are supposed to.. its not really about the school i dont think, i read some more she was also convicted i believe on something else so i think their issue is the fraud not so much the school but it is still a travesty that she felt the need to do all of this to try to do better for herself. NO one should have to live in the ghetto

      September 3, 2011 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ridiculous

      The $30k seems irrelevant to me b/c funds would have been provided for her girls to go to any public school. I don't know how school funding works in Ohio, but part of that $30k surely comes from state & federal funds. So that's the same money paid out wherever her girls are enrolled in school. Some money could have come from local tax payers, but it sounds like the children's grandfather is a resident in the community so he at least IS a local taxpayer. And $6k to investigate where someone lives? Sign me up for that job!

      The other point is, people lie about this all the time. This stinks of selective prosecution, and she's an easy target b/c she's poor.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. janice

    She doesn't deserve to go to jail,any good parent would have done the same thing for their children.I would rather for my child to go to a school in a safe neighborhood than to one where they are dodging bullets on a daily basis.Why can't we be allowed to choose the school we want our child to attend,as an American shouldn't i have that right?

    September 3, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. Roberta Legree

    Is this panel on crack? Are they seriously charging this mother with 2 felonies? What is really going on, this is lunancy. That's why you have to have people in positions of power with some sense. You cannot just let any dumb butt hold positions. A mother lie about the whereabouts of her child, knowing the child is dead, and she probably did the killing, but that mother is being charge for lying to police, so, maybe if you tell lies, oh no, we're all going to jail, we're all going to have felonies. Save us from ourselves.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. jdurand

    So what exactly was the crime here?

    I understand that she lied about where she lived so her kids could go to a school outside here district, but I didn't see anything in my view that warranted any kind of severe punishment. I mean a 5-year suspended sentence and 2 years community server...really?

    Was money stolen? People hurt? I mean, surely there has got to be more than lying about residency to get your kids into another school. I know 5 people off the top of my head that are doing that right this very moment.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Herndon Davis

      She received $30,000 in tuition breaks and cost the school board $6,000 in investigation costs as previously reported in another CNN new story.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • greedyrichpplsuck

      Hernadon thats not why, i read somewhere they had another charge for fraud thats what was said whethers it tru i dont know but they should SAY that,CNN is fair but theirs a slant she wasnt completely innocent here, she should have just paid back the system, otherwise going to jail for sending you kids to school is plain stupid.

      September 3, 2011 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Femme

    She didn't lie to get them a better education...she lied so they wouldn't have to stay home by themselves. Big difference.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. A Mom

    What??? Stop wasting time and go after real criminals.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sharon

    God Bless America. It' sad that we spend tax payer money to procecute a Mother who was only trying to do the right thing for her children. I can't believe that there are women on here turning their backs on this women. You should understand that (1) the safety of your children is number one., (2) every parent wants the best for the children and many others (including yourselves) have done something unorthodox to provide for their children. I'm not saying it's right to use other people (family members) addresses. I know that the normal punishment for this offense is to remove the child from the school, not to jail the parent. Come on people!

    September 3, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. 098a58f0akko4uha997702-;'e/;pppp

    and what if she steals from you to help put her kid in a better school (and free babysitting from the folks). no kid, student loans... time to strap on those heels and head to da club!

    September 3, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. jdurand

    And what the hell kind of school district require families pay tuition??? Was this a private school? I ask because I've lived in many districts over the years and none require tuition.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. A Mom

    This story sounds kind of familiar...like that one where the guy steals some bread cause his family is hungry.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. tom-e chrstn

    Who hasn't lied about something at one time or another! About one thing or another! In this world, we ALL do what we have to do to survive. It is a shame. But it is true.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Neal

    It's all about stealing from those who have by those who have not. Just like the poor kids would steal lunch money from the rich kids in the school playground. That is what we are teaching our children – stealing and cheating and fraud is always ok if you take from those who have more than you. Amen.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. jdurand

    I still don't understand what she stole

    September 3, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. ns296

    Stupid panel board... if u put her in jail, u only worsen her future.. Perhaps due to financial constraints, she had placed her kids there, but putting her in jail.. Have they ever thought what would have happen to her children... Seriously.. can't believe this kind ignorance...

    September 3, 2011 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. TexasFrau

    She was wrong to lie, but she doesn't deserve two felonies over this.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17