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Williams-Bolar case misrepresented

By John Published: January 31, 2011

The national attention that the Kelley Williams-Bolar case is getting is missing a basic fact that our newspaper has reported more than once:

Williams-Bolar has said she enrolled her daughters in Copley-Fairlawn schools because she was concerned about the safey of her West Akron neighborhood, not because she was unsatisfied with Akron Public Schools.  ABJ courts reporter Ed Meyer has reported this more than once in his coverage, including this section where William-Bolars' attorney Kerry O'Brien explains her concerns in court:

Last week, in a short interview with the Beacon Journal, Williams-Bolar said she enrolled her girls in Copley-Fairlawn schools over ''safety issues.'' 
    She declined to elaborate, saying the issues would come out at trial. 
    Apparently following up on that claim, O'Brien explained to the jury what the safety issues were, pointing to the prosecution's photos of the Hartford Avenue neighborhood where Williams-Bolar lived. 
    ''During the daytime, it's a pretty nice-looking neighborhood,'' O'Brien said. ''But she doesn't find out until she's living there for a while that, once the sun goes down, look out! There's gunfire. There's home break-ins.'' 
    During the first two years Williams-Bolar lived there, from 2004 to 2006, O'Brien said, she filed about a dozen Akron police reports about neighborhood violence ''and strange people being in and around her house.'' 
    It was then, O'Brien said, that Williams-Bolar decided to move her children to her father's house, about two miles west of where she lived.

ABJ police reporter Phil Trexler interviewed Williams-Bolar while she was serving jail time and wrote this:
It was the crime in her neighborhood and her insistence that her daughters would not be latch-key children that fueled the school change, she said. A burglary just after Christmas one year, she said, was the last straw. She said she wanted to maintain her independence and declined to move in with her father. 
    ''I felt it was my duty,'' [Williams-Bolar] said. ''I could not conceive of them walking home after our home was violated.''

APS employs her as a teaching assistant for students with special needs at Buchtel High School, so perhaps she's reluctant to criticize her employer, but of course that would be pure speculation and mind-reading. Everything she's said and testified to in public indicates that her concerns were about the safety of her neighborhood, not the quality of the schools her daughters attended.

Yet, I keep seeing stuff like this and this and this and this in the national media that misleads readers into believing this was about the quality of Akron Public Schools, even suggesting that Williams-Bolar is the Rosa Parks of school reform.

Update: And now the bungled story makes it way to Taiwan.



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