NEWS: Williams-Bolar Could Be Granted Clemency in Ohio Case
From the Associated Press:
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio woman jailed after using her father’s address to enroll her children in a neighboring school district told the state parole board on Wednesday that she’s remorseful for lying and would do things differently if given the chance.
Kelley Williams-Bolar, 41, of Akron, served nine days in jail for falsifying information on records that were used to send her daughters to a suburban school outside their urban district. She said her conviction for felony records tampering threatens her efforts to earn a teacher’s license.
“I love my kids and I would have done anything for my children,” said Williams-Bolar, who at times got emotional before the Ohio Parole Board.
Prosecutors defended the felony charges, saying Williams-Bolar willingly broke the law by using her father’s address and misrepresenting other information on school documents for the nearby Copley-Fairlawn district. Officials there challenged her girls’ residency in 2007, when they were 9 and 13 years old.
Summit County chief assistant prosecutor Brad Gessner told the parole board that Williams-Bolar had a pattern of deception when it came to falsifying documents. Gessner said she had options when the school questioned her about her residency, but instead changed her address on her driver’s license and bank and employment documents.
“Ms. Bolar refused to come to any agreement with the school system,” Gessner said. “She took the case every direction except to a conclusion.”
Williams-Bolar’s older daughter now attends an Akron public high school, while her youngest daughter got a voucher to go to a private middle school.
Gov. John Kasich requested the clemency hearing before the parole board, which will recommend whether he should pardon her. Kasich has the final say.
The case drew national attention as a high-profile example of schools getting tougher on parents who improperly send their children to other districts, usually with better-funded and higher-performing schools. Some people were outraged by Williams-Bolar’s dishonesty, and others believed her prosecution and punishment were too severe.
Kasich has used the case to highlight expanded access to educational alternatives, including vouchers, and it became a rallying point for advocates of school choice.
Williams-Bolar, a single mother, said safety was her main concern when she enrolled her daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn district. She said she was worried about leaving her daughters alone because someone had broken into her home.