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Akron mom to get clemency hearing in Columbus

By John Published: May 6, 2011

John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

The Akron mother convicted of falsifying school enrollment forms to get her two children into Copley-Fairlawn schools will get a clemency hearing.

The Ohio Parole Board has granted Kelley Williams-Bolar and her lawyer a hearing in Columbus, but a date hasn't been set.

Summit County prosecutors also will be able to weigh in on whether Williams-Bolar deserves clemency.

After the hearing, the parole board will make a recommendation for or against clemency and send it to the governor.

Williams-Bolar, 40, was convicted in January of two felony counts for falsifying records to enroll her two daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn district using her father's address.

As a first offender, Williams-Bolar was sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove to 10 days in jail, two years of probation and 80 hours of community service.

Williams-Bolar's attorney, David Singleton of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center in Cincinnati, has filed a notice of appeal in Cosgrove's court.

The case sparked an international media frenzy that included Williams-Bolar's appearance on Dr. Phil in March to talk about whether her punishment fit the crime.

A Beacon Journal analysis of all 64 cases of disputed residency that Copley-Fairlawn schools had investigated since 2005 showed that only her case resulted in a felony conviction.

Nine families were allowed to remain because they established legal residency and settled on a repayment plan for back tuition. Twenty other families also were caught, but they withdrew their children from the district. None of them paid back tuition and no one was convicted of a crime.

Although school choice advocates tried to paint Williams-Bolar as the Rosa Parks of charter schools and vouchers, Williams-Bolar has said repeatedly that the issue wasn't the quality of Akron Public Schools, where she works as a teaching assistant.

She has said she was concerned about the safety of her children living in their West Akron neighborhood.

She testified at her trial that she enrolled her daughters in Copley-Fairlawn schools because she didn't want them to be alone at her home after school while she was at work.

On Feb. 8, shortly after taking office, Gov. John Kasich ordered the Ohio Parole Board to review Williams-Bolar's case.

Kasich said he wanted the board to determine whether her conviction should stand, whether it should be reduced to a lesser offense, whether her sentence should be reduced or whether she should be pardoned.



John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the education blog at http://education.ohio.com/.
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