Just in case you haven’t seen this story blow up on your social network this week: Kelley Williams-Bolar is headed to an Ohio jail. The mother of two was sentenced this week to 10 days in jail, three years of probation, and 80 hours of community service. Her crime? Sending her two daughters to an out-of-district school.
Williams-Bolar lives with the children in an Akron housing project but listed the girls’ home address on school forms as one belonging to her father, who lived nearby in Copley Township, a wealthier area with higher achieving schools. Both Williams-Bolar and her father, Edward Williams, were charged with defrauding the school system to the tune of $30,500.
According to Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University, a jury deliberated for seven hours before convicting Williams-Bolar on two counts of tampering with court records. Her father was charged with fourth degree felony grand theft. Williams-Bolar was ordered to begin serving her sentence immediately.
To make matters even worse for Williams-Bolar, who currently works as an aide for special education classes and is close to completing her own teacher certification, she risks being disqualified from working as an educator because of her conviction. People convicted of felony offenses in Ohio can be disqualified from working as educators, according to local news reports.
It’s an infuriating case, especially for anyone who’s even remotely familiar with educational inequity in this country. America still hasn’t made good on its half-century promise to desegregate its public schools, and academic achievement can almost always be measured by zip code.
Supporters of Williams-Bolar have started a petition on Change.org to get Gov. John Kasich and other state officials to reduce the sentence on appeal.