Beacon Journal staff writer
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has ordered his legal staff to review the Kelley Williams-Bolar school residency case in detail.
''My wife alerted me to it and I read about it and I thought, this doesn't make any sense,'' Kasich said in a telephone interview Tuesday. ''And then I got a call from [U.S. Rep.] Jesse Jackson Jr. who has been a friend of mine since we served together and he asked me to take a really hard look at it and I got all my people on it.''
Last week, the Illinois Democrat called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to ''ascertain the facts, intervene on behalf of Ms. Williams-Bolar because she represents millions of Americans who recognize the unfairness of an education funding system that is based on local property taxes.''
A Summit County jury convicted Williams-Bolar, 40, of two felonies for tampering with records during the process of enrolling her two children in Copley-Fairlawn schools in August 2006.
Her children left Copley-Fairlawn after the 2007-2008 school year and she was indicted on felony charges in November 2009, more than two years after the district contested her residency in an official district-level hearing.
Kasich said in a statement released Tuesday that his lawyers are ''in the process of talking to her lawyer, the prosecutor and the school district.''
The Williams-Bolar case has drawn international attention and she often is portrayed as a mother fleeing Akron Public Schools where she works as a teaching assistant for special needs students to secure a better education at Copley-Fairlawn Schools.
Conservative commentator Kyle Olson told NPR last week that ''a lot of people are seeing this as the Rosa Parks moment for education and education reform.''
On Monday, the Washington Post published an opinion piece online by Kevin Huffman headlined ''A Rosa Parks moment for education'' that cites Olson's comment.
''Last week, 40-year-old Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was released after serving nine days in jail on a felony conviction for tampering with records,'' Huffman wrote. ''Williams-Bolar's offense? Lying about her address so her two daughters, zoned to the lousy Akron city schools, could attend better schools in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn district.''
However, Williams-Bolar hasn't called Akron schools lousy.
She has said repeatedly that she enrolled her students in Copley-Fairlawn because she worried about the safety of her West Akron neighborhood, not because she had problems with the quality of Akron Public Schools.
The media attention coincided with National School Choice Week, which Kasich memorialized through official proclamation, declaring last week to be Ohio School Choice Week.
Kasich said he was not thinking about school choice when he called for the review of the Williams-Bolar case, however.
''I think the statement speaks for itself,'' Kasich said. ''It does say that we need more choice, but it's a human case before anything else. I'm concerned about the woman.''
He said he understood that her publicly stated reasons for enrolling her daughters in Copley-Fairlawn had nothing to do with the quality of Akron Public Schools.
''I think at some point it does raise questions about open enrollment and the ability for parents to put themselves in a position where they think it's best for their children,'' Kasich said.
''That's something that is related to this, but first and foremost is the woman herself and what appears to be an effort on her part to improve herself and provide for her kids. We want to get to the bottom of this, but it just seems as though the punishment here is excessive. That was what I thought from the very first time I read about it.''