A Black mother in Ohio is in jail for using her father’s address to have her children enrolled in a better (and predominately White) school district.

Akron resident Kelly Williams-Bolar, 40, registered her two daughters into the Copley-Fairlawn school district, listing them as residents of her father’s suburban Copley Township home. According to CNN Online, a jury found her guilty of tampering with official school records. Last week, Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Williams-Bolar to five years in prison, but has suspended all but 10 days. She must also perform 80 hours of community service and will be on probation for three years.

Williams-Bolar, is a teacher’s aide at an Akron high school and is just a few classes away from completing her teaching degree at the University of Akron. However, a felony conviction would prevent her from getting a license to teach in the state of Ohio.

Her felony conviction will bar her from being licensed to teach in Ohio, a fact that Judge Cosgrove says she weighted in her decision to convict Williams-Bolar. However, according to Akron News Now, the judge submitted a letter to the Education Department asking that they allow her to be licensed regardless of her criminal record, stating that she “is a single mother of two with many good qualities.”

Hmph.

Williams-Bolar, who was released from prison after serving nine days of her sentence, told a CNN affilate that she and her children resided in both her home and her fathers. Her father agreed, stating that he believed they were following the rules by allowing the children to enroll in his school district, as they lived with him part time. Edward Williams (who is awaiting retrial for his own grand theft charges in the matter) also remarked that his daughter’s subsudized housing was not safe. “She had 12 police reports that her house had been broken in, so what am I supposed to do? Just leave them there?” Williams stated in an interview with WJW-TV. “I mean, I can protect them better if they was with me.”According to CNN, Akron City school district (where Williams-Bolar resides)” met only four of 26 standards issued by the Ohio Department of Education and graduates some 76% of its students. Copley-Fairlawn City Schools, where the two children were enrolled, met all 26 standards and had a graduation rate of 97.5%.

Copley-Fairlawn Superintendent Brian Poe claimed that the children cost the school district $30,000 in tuition over the course of two years and that the case cost them $8,000 to date. He also denied charges that the Williams family was singled out for an investigation because of their race. The Copley-Fairlawn district is 75% percent white.

I have countless friends and former classmates who “resided” with a grandparent, an aunt or even a friend of the family in order to gain access to a better public education. I even know people who changed residency to avoid out of state college tuition fees. It’s heartbreaking to know that these sort of measures were necessary for Williams-Bolar to get her children in to a high-performing school. It’s even more frustrating that the people of Copley-Fairlawn schools hired a private investigator to determine the children’s real address and then chose to peruse criminal charges for GRAND THEFT. While what Williams-Bolar did may not have been right, it takes a cold person to say it wasn’t okay.

  • http://adivastateofmind.com A Diva State of Mind

    How do you punish a mother for wanting to put her children in a position to recive the best education available where they live?? I think the family was definitely singled out because of their race. That’s obvious and a damn shame!

  • minna k.

    I am not surprised at all about the treatment that this family is facing. I truly hope the best for them.

    The sad thing is that in 2011, many black parents STILL feel the need to send their kids to a mostly white school to get a “better” education. Black children deserve good schools and educations alongside other black children.

    On the flip, I know some parents that don’t want their black children “exposed” to other black children, and this is a problem. Integration is fine, but has not fixed the quality of black schools for 50 years. In fact, it drained money, good parent representation and resources.

  • Mimi

    I am speechless…I mean we have people committing HORRIBLE crimes out there and she is convicted for what again? What was wrong in just taking the children out of the school district and calling it a day? Not to mention the fact they lived with her father part time..I really can’t. What about crack mothers and prostitutes who wouldn’t even send their children to school? is this what this country has come to?

  • Emelyne

    I was compelled to read this article when I say the article, assuming that this must be some sort of sick joke. Now I see the joke is on this poor mom, for trying to better her children’s futures. Anyone who claims that racism is dead simply because a bi-racial president is in the White House needs to read this. SMH. I pray for this woman; it’s a shame that she gets punished for being a good mother.

  • sloane

    wow, so they have given this woman a criminal record and may have ruined her career because she wanted to send her children to a better school? then on top of that they had the nerve to use public funds THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DIVERTED INTO THE SCHOOL SYSTEM that they are so desperate to protect to hire a private investigator to tail her. then they charge the grandfather with grand theft when he lives within the district and pays taxes into that particular district (so how is that theft)? i really believe they chose to make “an example” of them because they are black. and who can blame this woman for wanting better for her children. maybe they can appeal this case. i hope the school district, prosecutor, and judge are somehow shamed because this is ridiculous.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ebonylolita Ebonylolita

    I don’t have a child but I know that if I had to “move” my kids to a different district to get a better level of education for them…. I WOULD!!! America is LAGGING in Education & we don’t have time to wait for “the establishment” to fix it while the children suffer scholastically.

    After hearing Obama’s SOTU address this calls to light the state of public education in America. This woman shouldn’t have had to do this but she DID!! They’d rather stall the possibilities for these children to advance & block their mother’s job opportunities instead of focusing on WHY she did this & how they can prevent this from being a regular occurrence :(

  • http://tahirjetter.com Tahir J

    This is a ridiculously egregious miscarriage of justice. #thatisall

  • binks

    That is a damn shame, I also believe they made her an example so they can deter others from doing it…i.e. black parents or other minorities. Because it isn’t a question of right and wrong but just sad, they could have handle it in so many other ways than jail. I mean this isn’t the first time someone has done this to get their child(ren) a better education, hell my mom purposely got a second job in another parish we didn’t live in so I could go to school. Yet, since this happen I hope that government on all levels take a look at their school systems in certain districts and area because NOW we can finally raise the hard hitting question of why is certain schools under funded or not invested in that are usually located in urban areas and neighborhoods but others are?

  • Lorvibe

    How dare this black woman tries to get a better education for her black children? How dare she?

    Anyone who doesn’t believe in white priveledge, this is a perfect example here. If she was white, they would not had send investigators after her.
    I am not excusing her crime, but a fellony for this? come on son!!

  • http://www.urbaneprofessional.wordpress.com Urbane Professional

    This is very sad, but it reminds us that education in America is not equal when a mom has to go through such measures. We need young professionals who are wiling to take a few years to teach in order to help make schools better, because right now we are losing when it comes to education…especially in minority communities.

  • Camille

    So what it is illegal to do what she did but if i was her and i wanted a better education for my children then i would do it too. It goes to show you that the schools all over the US suck and parents are doing anything to make sure that their children get a good education.

  • Cherish

    I think the arrest of this women is ridiculous! You’re punishing her for simply giving her children an education? If I was a part of that school board, I would’ve let them attend the school since it is hard to make it with education these days. America is lacking in education and such, so it makes sense that her mother wants best for her children.v I qualify her actions, to an extent. What she did was forged a false address and used her father for the school admissions, which is going too far is you ask me. it’s taking money out of other potential children who wants to attend that certain school. The most sensible thing to do is to move her children to another district. In New Orleans where i live, most of the children have the option to attend any school regardless of the location. They have people attending my school while living across the river. this is a reminder of the lack of equality of education in America. Instead of going after this woman, why not use all of that time and energy on real criminals who have intent to cause harm?

  • shelly

    It’s only because they are black.

  • http://beyondtheradar.wordpress.com Sasha

    This is enraging! How can a mother simply attempting to better he children’s education exeperience be legally sentenced to jail time?! This a SCHOOL issue why is that illegal if the kids lived part-time with their grandfather? BULSHIT! That’s ridiculous. And after the President’s State of the Union Address which specifically highlighted the importance of education-this is just sad. SO many mothers do this and yes it may be dishonest of them, but what is a mother to do when she doesn’t want her kids attending a school that hasn’t taken the proper initiative to better itself?

    Sad.

  • what-what

    Now I’m not sure about the legal system in the U.S but it really seems unjustified and pointless to sentence a woman and give her a criminal record based on the fact that her kids stayed with the grandfather part time.
    I mean did it really have to end in court?
    What is the world coming to when a mother is sentenced for sending her children to another school in another district. Didn’t even know there were laws for that in the U.S.
    A criminal record for life for trying to upgrade her kids education?? Wow!

  • SKS

    This reminds me of the Oprah show featuring the “Waiting for Superman” documentary regarding the state of the education system in America. Then D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee stated she could determine the quality of education a student would get just by looking at their area code. That episode really opened my eyes, they even went so far as to say this generation of students will be the first in America to learn less than their parents..and that’s saying a lot. You can’t fault a parent for trying to give their child a better education. Michelle Rhee was bullied into resigning her post and it goes to show who’s winning this battle on education. It’s just sad.

  • Dee

    While I understand the severity of the situation, she did commit fraud. I do not believe she should have gotten the sentence she received. She was used to send a message to black mothers, or low-income mothers, who wish to send their children to better schools. That message was “dont.” The charges against Ms. Williams were bogus, if she had an attorney with half-a-brain they could have gotten her off a majority of these charges. Maybe y’all can enlighten a sista, but how is signing a petition going to get justice for Ms. Williams?

  • My opinion…

    While I agree with the majority of what you all are saying…I believe I have a little more insight.

    I’m a recent graduate of Copley High School and was there when the district really began to start cracking down on children who were attending the school but didn’t live in the school district. I graduated in ’09. So, basically this situation is nothing new, but I don’t think they’ve ever punished someone as severely as they have done with the woman in this case. I think they’re just fed up. And rightly so.

    I mean think about it, how do you think they target the kids who get investigated? These kids are usually the ones who couldn’t care less about the “better education” their parent(s) are trying to provide. They skip class, they are in and out of detention and they are doing everything BUT flying under the radar….

    Anyway, I think that it’s wrong that they have treated her so harshly, but I mean, come on… “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.”

  • taylormay

    OMG!!! I’m from Copley- I had no idea this had made national news. While this is severe people that don’t live in Copley have no idea how expensive it is to pay for kids especially when most of those kids aren’t adding anything positive to the school. I graduated in ’10 but I remember driving towards the boundary of Akron and seeing kids walking from west Akron to Copley- I remember comparing it to people jumping over fences in Mexico. Of course this is unfortunate but one can’t necessarily judge the community or the mother unless you are familiar with both sides because both sides have my sympathy.

  • taylormay

    Also, the district has hired private investigators on white students as well. There isn’t a huge population of A.A. students so when there is mysteriously a new one the district was more aware of it but bus driver who saw kids getting into their parents car after being dropped off at their stop have reported everyone- it doesn’t help when these kids are bad and usually disrespectful.

    To say that it wasn’t right but that it is cold hearted to say that it isn’t okay is strange to me. If something isn’t right it is wrong right? If something is right it is okay and if it is not right wouldn’t it not be okay?

  • taylormay

    hese kids are usually the ones who couldn’t care less about the “better education” their parent(s) are trying to provide. They skip class, they are in and out of detention and they are doing everything BUT flying under the radar….

    THANK YOU!!! its not racism its the fact that you’re kids are constantly in trouble and add that to the fact that Copley tax payers are paying thousands of dollars for them to embarrass and terrorize the students that are there to… i dunno- get an EDUCATION!.

    Most of these kids aren’t even financially strapped. They choose to live in Akron because they have public buses, its a city, or etc. When I was there the same kids who couldn’t afford a house were the same ones with a new ipod, shoes, hat, clothes, Benz, and a new tattoo after every weekend.

    No offense to the author but this article is insufficient and is obviously one written with emotions and ignorance to the situation in Copley, Oh. Which in turn allows equally uninformed readers to feel a certain way about a situation they have no understanding of.

  • isolde

    why were the charges against her bogus?

  • isolde

    “It’s even more frustrating that the people of Copley-Fairlawn schools hired a private investigator to determine the children’s real address and then chose to peruse criminal charges for GRAND THEFT.”

    @Jamilah

    So, I think we can all agree that this is one big race, class, privilege clusterf*ck. That said, it’s grand theft because it cost the Copley district around 30-40K to educate Williams-Bolar’s children, in which case, hiring the PI to build a case against her would have been cheaper than the cost of educating her children on a yearly basis. Believe it or not, the practice of school districts investigating the residency of students is quite common.

    From what I understand, the Copley school district didn’t immediately prosecute, and Williams Bolar wasn’t the only person who got caught. There were a bunch of other families that were found falsifying their addresses to utilize schools in that district, and when given the choice of paying back the tuition and withdrawing their children or facing felony prosecution, those other families chose the former. Williams-Bolar decided to fight it; then they hired the PI, and she wound up with a felony conviction.

    What she did was fraudulent and illegal. This is true. However, the bigger issue at hand is how much public school districts rely on property taxes for funding and the resource disparities that revenue creates.

  • Maya

    That is the most RIDICULOUS thing I have ever heard ….. my husband was City attendance officer and there are kindergartners missing 20-30 days of school … WHY beacause that parent was lazy and TRIFLIN and this woman to want better for her children just like any “normal” person would …How can you even think to bring charges against her this is another terrible example of our unjustice system… I must say this TRULY disgusts me to my core

  • Leelee

    I guess they ran out of child molesters and rapists to arrest in that neighborhood. Pitiful.

  • sloane

    @taylormay- then why don’t you inform us. do you personally know this woman’s children? were they acting up?

  • Emelyne

    Wow, you two (My Opinion and Taylor May) really take the kids. You don’t know anything about “these kids” but you make racially fueled assumptions about them “not caring” about the better education that their mother is trying to provide, skipping class and acting up. Let me ask you something: Have you EVER heard of a school board using funds to investigate the parents of a child because of that child’s behaviour in school? This is a classic case of something being painfully obvious and a few people not even ready to present valid point feeling compelled to be contrary and showcasing their ignorance in the process. Whether is was racially based or just a school board with too much money and too much time, this school board is wrong and this woman does’t deserve to have her reputation tarnished and her career ruined for trying to better her children, whether or not they appreciate it. They are KIDS, it’s not up to them to have a say in anything pertaining to their betterment. I hated vegetables, but although I didn’t appreciate having to eat them, I appreciate my mom now for making it non-debateable. Please stop making assumptions of the characters of this woman’s children. It’s ridiculous and unnecessary.

  • African Mami

    Out of curiosity, if she was white and 12 credits shy of graduation would they have pursued the matter in the same vigorous manner they did?

  • Nellie

    this is sick,unfair she just wanted a better education for her daughters and her neighborhood didnt have such, it should be the governments fault not hers… @African Mami I bet you they wouldnt have.*sigh*

  • Nellie

    hold on..you can get charged for taking your children to another school district??? what the hell kinda world is this. I went through half of school in another district.lol. maybe because I live in canada.US is messed up

  • http://monex.to/ Monex

    .They cant be serious with this f ckery .A Summit County woman will spend 10 days in jail after she was found guilty in a school residency case that could set a precedent for Ohio school districts. She was also facing one count of grand theft but the judge declared a mistrial on that charge after the jury couldnt reach a verdict.

  • isolde

    “this school board is wrong and this woman does’t deserve to have her reputation tarnished and her career ruined for trying to better her children, whether or not they appreciate it.”

    @Emelyne

    No, the school board isn’t in the wrong. The mother is. This isn’t “the school’s” fault. This is a symptom of a larger problem, one that tethers children to schools based on their addresses, regardless of whether or not those schools are failing the community. That’s what’s wrong. It’s not the Copley-Fairlawn district’s job to educate children from other districts for free, nor is the district in the wrong for prosecuting someone for stealing. I too would like to know what prompted the Copley district to investigate the residency status of the “discovered” students (there were at least 20), but unless there’s proof that the “discovered” children were illegally targeted (because of race), then the school did exactly what it should have done.

    And Williams Bolar’s reputation isn’t being tarnished because of the school. It’s being tarnished because she was convicted. The school board gave her the opportunity to repay the tuition for educating her children, and she declined. Being a TA on the verge of finishing her degree and getting certified, she knew that a felony conviction would put her career at risk, but she rolled the dice anyway because she thought she was only going to get probation.

  • http://cuttingfitness.com Zahra Brown

    Plus the people who remove their kids from school to go on holiday, just to save money.

    Their town’s jail must be pretty empty if they’re imprisoning people for this. Then again, black people tend to get a harsher sentence so why be surprised?

  • Thinker

    I think it excellent that they convicted her. Now she will move in with her father full time, because her career path is ruined, and the kids will stay at that school. And what she did is common place. Her mistake is that she didn’t find a pos property to make her residence. That’s what the rich people do so they can live somewhere that has lower property tax than that district. Has anyone given thought to the fact that anyone that does not live in the county for lets say a hundred years won’t pay the full price of education their children. Those of you that graduated from high school in the last 5 years probably haven’t been around long enough to see what is really going on. Everyone in the situation is a dumbass.

  • http://yahoo teka

    I did the same thing when my kids were young. I was divorced, and a single mother trying to raise 3 sons by myself. I had no brothers or sisters, my mother died when I was a child. My dad help me as much as he could. He worked everyday as I did. I tried living in low income housing when my kids were young but it was a fight for them to just go outside and play. Now what I did, I held off buying a home and lived in apartments, when my kids got in their teens I rented houses. In doing this my kids always went to the best schools because I moved right where they were. This was not easy, I had to work my but off. My sons finished school and graduated from college. They are now in their mid and late twenties. Doing great. I did what I felt I had to do, to at least try and give them the best. I understand clearly what this woman felt had to do.

  • Selita

    Is there a petition that we can make/sign? This is unfair and disgusting. She was trying to better her children’s lives and this is what she gets? Unfair.

  • http://sartorialme.blogspot.com serenissima

    sigh… i attended elementary, junior high, and high school in a better district because i ‘lived’ at my grandmothers house, and i thank my lucky stars for that because im sure if i had attended my neighborhood school i might have been pregnant, on drugs, and/or shot/stabbed by now… im from DC and theres not that many great schools there (and i recently heard that theyre rezoning my district to keep even my grandmothers ward, a predominately Black one, out of my high schools area (a predominately White one).

    shame on this city.

    http://sartorialme.blogspot.com

  • boho.barbie

    And to think the judge is a mother of three children! How apatheic and simple minded must this so -called “Judge” Cosgrove be to not be able to put herself in Ms. Williams-Bolar’s position. Life in Black & White!

  • Julie

    WTF…are you kidding me? WHAT’S WRONG with our judicial system…with society??? This sounds like something from a communist country. For God sake leave these people alone. This Mother is trying to make a better life for her children. It angers me that “they” spend time picking on some poor woman rather than taking care of the real issues.
    Sigh…and I’ll bet social services is also involved in this horrific case cuz the Mom is just scum of the earth – and it’ll be some book taught snot nosed kid with no children of her own telling you how to raise yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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