Blog Posts, Education and School Choice

Mother Behind Bars Becoming Media Star

ABC News is the latest major media outlet to take note of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio mother who is spending 10 days behind bars because she tried to get a better education for her daughters.

As friends of the Bernard Center will recall, Ms. Williams-Bolar, a single mother who lives in a housing project, was sent to jail because she falsified residency forms to get her girls out of what she regarded as a failing public school. As ABC sums up the story:

Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District.

But it wasn’t her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district’s boundaries.

The school district accused Williams-Bolar of lying about her address, falsifying records and, when confronted, having her father file false court papers to get around the system.

Williams-Bolar said she did it to keep her children safe and that she lived part-time with her dad.

The Copley-Fairlawn School District hired a private detective, who ferreted out Mrs. Williams-Bolar’s “crime.” Ordered to pay $30,000 in back tuition, the teaching assistant refused and ended up in court and ultimately behind bars. She was sentenced to five years, but a judge reduced it to 10 days. Still, the felony conviction means that Ms. Willams-Bolar will not be able to obtain the teaching license she sought.

Although we don’t condone lying, we can understand Ms. Williams-Boler’s temptation, and we hope that media attention will highlight a serious problem: the difficulty many parents who can’t afford private school tuition face when trying to provide an academically-challenging education in a safe environment for their children.

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