Jailed for caring


An Ohio woman, Kelley Williams-Bolar, cared enough to go to great lengths to get her two children out of the poorly performing school to which her residence in the low-income "projects" of Akron, Ohio, would have condemned them.

Registering them by using her father's address in a nearby affluent suburb, Williams-Bolar, while working as a teacher's aide specializing in helping children with special needs, managed to send her kids to a better, less violent, suburban public school from 2006 to 2008.

Local officials threw her in jail.

Earlier this month, an Ohio jury found Williams-Bolar, 40, guilty on two counts of tampering with records -- essentially, lying about where her children lived.

She was also facing one count of grand theft -- for supposedly "stealing" $30,000 worth of schooling for her daughters -- though a judge declared a mistrial on that charge after the jury failed to reach a verdict.

The defendant was sentenced to two concurrent five-year prison terms, but most of that time was suspended -- she ended up serving just nine days in jail to "set an example" to others who may attempt to similarly "steal" a tax-paid education for their children.

The suburban district does not have open enrollment; out-of-district tuition is about $800 per month.

So a poor black woman on public assistance is jailed for sending her kids to a nearby, rich, mostly white school.

Yes, what she did was against the law -- thanks to legislators, beholden to teacher unions, who fight vouchers, school choice and open enrollment as hills to die for, even as these same lawmakers claim to allocate billions "for the children."

Meantime, how many other American families -- possessed of a bit more in the way of wealth, sophistication and family connections -- pull off similar shifts of "residency" across district lines, with the full complicity of school officials, so that a promising young athlete can qualify to play on a championship athletic team?

Will the Williams-Bolar children now be forced to return to schools in Akron, which their mother considers to be violent, dangerous and underperforming? What if one of them is eventually injured or killed there? What if they are merely trapped in a cycle of multi-generational poverty by their inability to get a decent education there?

Who will a judge sentence to jail if that happens?

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.