In January of 2011 Kelley Williams-Bolar of Akron, Ohio was sentenced to 10 days in jail, 80 hours of community service, and 3 years probation. In addition she was forced pay $800 in restitution and the cost of being prosecuted by Summit county. Her crime, falsifying documents. Williams- Bolar did not falsify records with the intent to steal, defraud or commit any other crime. All she wanted was what all well meaning parents want, the best possible education for her children.
Williams-Bolar lived in a housing project with her 2 daughters in Akron, Ohio. For 2 years she sent them to a school in the Copley- Fairlawn district where her father lived. The high crime rate in her area was her deciding factor. The schools in Akron were infested with gangs, and were so under funded that there was even talk of combining Middle and High School's. The Copley-Fairlawn school district which is located in a suburban enclave not far from Akron, paid a private investigator $6000 to find the children's residential records and as a result found out that although she listed the children as living in the area, they actually lived with her.
Today Williams-Bolar who had a spotless record before this incident, is 2 years into her sentence. As a part of her probation she has to report monthly to a probation officer, is not allowed to drink, and must submit to random drug tests. Bolar once worked as a teaching assistant with special needs children while earning her teaching degree. But since she is now a convicted felon, under Ohio law she can no longer earn that degree.
Falsifying records is a felony and Judge Patricia Hargrove initially sentenced Williams-Bolar to 2 concurrent 5 year prison sentences. But suspended the sentence in favor of 10 days in jail, probation, and community service.
This decision has sparked outrage amongst long time advocates for improvement in education for poor and underprivileged children. The fact that one school district can afford to waste $6000 on a witch hunt, while another is so underfunded that they may have to combine schools is alarming to say the least.
It is outrageous to put a working class single mother behind bars for attempting to give her children the best possible education for their future so that they could have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty. Rather than punish her for being a good mother, something should be done so that parents don't have to take such drastic steps in order to insure that their children receive a quality education in a quality environment. But for all of her good intentions, she has been marginalized, and her dream of teaching special needs children has been deferred.
But I guess it doesn't matter, as long as the Coppley-Fairlawn district accomplishes its mission to deprive ghetto youth of an education, and keep them in their place.