Jan 31, 2011

Kelley Williams-Bolar, a single Akron mother who was sentenced to jail after tampering with records so her children could attend a suburban school, may soon get to return to her job with the Akron Public Schools.

David W. James, superintendent of Akron schools, released a statement Friday saying, "Although we understand this is a difficult issue, Ms. Williams-Bolar served her time. Barring any further action by the ODE (Ohio Department of Education), she will be returning to work in the near future."

Williams-Bolar has been employed full time in good standing with Akron Public Schools since 2008, and the conviction is not an absolute bar to employment, James said in his statement. "The decision to revoke or suspend her educational assistant certificate," he wrote, "belongs to the Ohio Department of Education."

The Akron school system was required by law to report her conviction to the state Department of Education.

A judge in the Summit County Ohio Court of Common Pleas sentenced Williams-Bolar to 10 days in jail after a jury convicted her on two felony counts of tampering with records in the process of enrolling her children in Copley-Fairlawn schools in August 2006.

The judge allowed the 40-year-old Williams-Bolar to be released a day early.

The Williams-Bolar's case has attracted national and international attention, with some even asking if she is the "Rosa Parks" of education.

Williams-Bolar, who lives in Akron public housing and is studying in college to become a teacher, used her father's address to enroll her two daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn School District. She has said she wanted a safer environment for her children.

"She just wanted her children to be safe, just like any other parent would want," said her father, Edward L. Williams, told BlackAmericaWeb.com in an interview last week.
"This is not about the school. She just wanted her children in a safe environment," Williams said.

The prosecutor who handled the case released a statement Friday defending that office's actions.

"While this case is truly an unfortunate situation, the fact remains that Kelley Williams-Bolar was prosecuted because she repeatedly and willfully broke the law, as a jury of her peers unanimously affirmed in court," Sherri Bevan Walsh said in her prepared statement.

Sources familiar with the case say that the jury of 12 also included five blacks.

"Prior to prosecution, she had many options available that did not include breaking the law, including working with the Copley school district before the case reached a criminal felony level," Walsh said. "There are many single mothers and families in similar situations who want the best for their children who are not breaking the law."
Copley-Fairlawn Superintendent Brian Poe told BlackAmericaweb.com that Williams-Bolar had the option of paying the $6,850 tuition each year per child or move into the district so her daughters could remain in district schools.
"Ms. Williams-Bolar was the only case that could not be resolved at the parent level because she would not acknowledge that she did anything wrong, and she refused to cooperate in any way," Walsh said in the statement. "As such, this office had no choice but to take action against Ms. Williams-Bolar, in accordance with the law and on behalf of residents that choose to follow the rules."


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