Eye on Education


kelley williams bolar headshot

Why Kelley Williams-Bolar Went to Jail


Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

Kelley Williams Bolar confers with her lawyer, David Singleton, at a July 20, 2011 Ohio Parole Board hearing.

Kelley Williams-Bolar is an Akron woman who was convicted of charges related to lying in order to send her children to a nearby suburban school district.

Williams-Bolar was convicted in January 2011 of two counts of tampering with records so that she could send her children to the Copley-Fairlawn City Schools instead of the Akron Public Schools.

The Copley-Fairlawn school district received a state rating of “excellent,” the equivalent of an “A” in 2011. The Akron school district was rated “continuous improvement,” the equivalent of a “C.”

Williams-Bolar is African American and both the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton have spoken out in her defense. In the 2010-11 school year, 14 percent of Copley Fairlawn students were black. Forty-seven percent of Akron students were black. However, Williams-Bolar told the state Parole Board that she does not believe that she was prosecuted because of her race.

Williams-Bolar has said that she wanted to send her children to the Copley-Fairlawn schools because she was concerned about their safety after school—not because she believed they would get a better education there. Her lawyer has said the idea she moved her children to another school so they could get a better education came from “school choice advocates” and the media.

In September 2011, Governor John Kasich reduced Williams-Bolar’s offenses from felonies to first-degree misdemeanors. Kasich’s decision was contrary to the recommendation of the state Parole Board.

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