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Click here to listen to the Kelley Williams-Bolar update with Roland Martin.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Kelley Williams-Bolar, of Akron, served nine days in jail earlier this year for falsifying information on records that she used to send her daughters to Copley-Fairlawn schools.

She said her conviction on two felony records tampering counts had threatened her efforts to earn her teacher’s license. Gov. John Kasich agreed, reducing the convictions to two misdemeanors.

“When I first heard about this situation, it seemed to me that the penalty was excessive for the offense,” the governor said in a statement. “In addition, the penalty could exclude her from certain economic opportunities for the rest of her life.”

But the governor’s action also came with a warning.

“No one should interpret this as a pass — it’s a second chance,” Kasich said.

Kasich is requiring Williams-Bolar to report for probation, serve 80 hours of community service, work full time, not take any drugs or drink alcohol and pay the cost of her prosecution.

Kasich’s order was a rare departure from the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, which said unanimously last week that Kasich should leave Williams-Bolar’s conviction in place.

Her attorney on Wednesday praised Kasich for bucking the board.

“It took a lot of courage for Gov. Kasich to do so in the face of a unanimous parole board recommendation that clemency be denied, and we applaud him for that,” said David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center.

Singleton said the decision will make it easier for Williams-Bolar to keep her job as a teacher’s aide and to ultimately apply to have the conviction struck from her record.

Williams-Bolar told the parole board in July that she was remorseful for lying and would do things differently if given the chance.

“I love my kids and I would have done anything for my children,” she told the board.

Prosecutors defended the felony charges, saying Williams-Bolar willingly broke the law by using her father’s address and misrepresenting other information on school documents for the Copley-Fairlawn district. Officials there challenged her daughters’ residency in 2007, when they were 9 and 13 years old.

Summit County chief assistant prosecutor Brad Gessner told the parole board that Williams-Bolar engaged in a pattern of deception when it came to falsifying documents. Gessner said she had options when school officials questioned her about her residency but instead changed her address on her driver’s license and bank and employment documents.

Williams-Bolar’s older daughter now attends an Akron public high school, while her younger daughter got a voucher to go to a private middle school. Williams-Bolar continues to work as a teacher’s assistant at Akron public schools.

The case drew national attention as a high-profile example of schools getting tougher on parents who improperly send their children to other districts, usually with better-funded and higher-performing schools. Some people were outraged by Williams-Bolar’s dishonesty. Others believed her prosecution and punishment were too severe.

Kasich has used the case to highlight expanded access to educational alternatives, including vouchers, and it became a rallying point for advocates of school choice.

Williams-Bolar, a single mother, said safety was her main concern when she enrolled her daughters in the Copley-Fairlawn district. She also said she was worried about leaving her daughters home alone because someone had broken in.

The parole board dismissed that concern in last week’s ruling, saying Williams-Bolar failed to explore several options to solve a problem faced by many working parents.

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5 thoughts on “UPDATE: Kelley Williams-Bolar Tampered Address for Children’s Education

  1. hellertax on said:

    This has been a wake-up call for many parents that reside in Akron. The Akron Public School system has extremely changed. Copley-Fairlawn schools are great schools and the teachers take the time out to help the children if there is help needed by the student. I tried to get my children open enrolled in Copley schools and they have a tuition if the students do not reside in that district which is $8,000/child and almost $900/month. I decided that was extremely out of my budget and open enrolled them in Cuyahoga Falls school district. They did not give me a hard time with the open enrollment, just proof of residency (utility bill), and just like that, my children were enrolled. I understand about the felonies. It is already hard to seek employment due to the loss of jobs all over the United States, but when there is a position available, they are only available to people that has a clean criminal background.

  2. cindycruz on said:

    Good move by the Governor.
    Two felonies for trying to get your children in a less crime ridden school is stupid and crazy

  3. msveenie on said:

    Not only was this excessive because was just trying to upgrade her kid’s education. That’s what any caring parent would do. But Kasich who has a sketchy past himself, with all his relationships on WALL STREET, he shouldn’t be warning anybody.

  4. RENO2AC on said:

    Her sentence was definitely overkill. I also live in Ohio, and I am an employee of a school district, and parents are allowed to request a Grandparent Tuition Waiver.

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