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. WOT

    Whites and rich only schools get tax money also!

    September 3, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Femme

    Everyone: this is a tuition-free school. There is no tuition. Maybe it would have been easier to understand if they said Public School.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anna

    I pray that this woman gets acqutted in the end. Some laws need changing particularly where they concern strugglying single mothers faced with the current economic situation. She did what she thought best for her children even if it meant going in for it. The jurors only saw her as a liar, but failed to understand her selfless sacrifice as a suffering single mother. By the way, were there no mothers on that jury? Perhaps, it would have a difference.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. dwarthan

    This whole case is a bad joke. she was trying to help her children.
    let her go
    The Ohio Parole Board needs to be put in jail

    September 3, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Arrrrgh

      Yeah! Silly folks! Enforcing laws and such. This is Bush's fault!

      September 3, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nick BC

    Another example of how the US stigmatizes the poor. This unfortunate woman just wanted her kids to be able to get a safe education, and she is now being sent to prison. I wish we had a more fair system, like in Denmark or Finaland

    September 3, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. the_dude

    Can't afford kids then don't have them.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kay

    Education should be equal for everyone. Where a person lives should NEVER keep anyone from receiving the best education. Tuition is actually red tape that segregates based on social class. If you can afford it, you get it; if you can't afford it, then, well, you're SOL.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. Anna

    If there were mothers on the jury, perhaps it would have made a difference. Laws are made for man, not man for laws. Some laws need to be revisited because of the present economic stress people are experiencing.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    this is bull if there was equal education in the public school sector than this would be a non issue dont we have an economy to fix c'mon now

    September 3, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Michelle

    Have you NEVER made a choice like this for your kids parents?? This is a joke.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |


    September 3, 2011 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. Julie

    If they take away your ability to earn a living or continue with your schooling....get to a doctor. I'm sure this situation makes you depressed and filled with anxiety. The doctor will give you medication for this. Don't worry about not being able to work hunny cause this depression will disable you. You can apply for social security disability and never work another day in your life. This is what my old high school friend felon did. He makes more on Social security than he was on minimum wage!

    September 3, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Not Dumb Enough to Live in a Hurricane Path

    Politicians lie every time they open their mouth. Don't prosecute them, don't prosecute anybody.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Amemer

    You have GOT to be kidding!! I thought this woman was a serial criminal or something. What about all these welfare mom's who work under the table? At least this woman is supporting her kids and trying to get her own degree. Sure this isn't race related. (By the way I'm white before everyone gets up in arms.)

    September 3, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  15. commonsense

    Really? What a waste of time and money on even escalating this situation. Instead of just letting her pay a fee and move on. The kids don't need this and yes, they are being affected.

    September 3, 2011 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
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