Meet Kelley Williams-Bolar: Prosecuted for Protecting Her Children’s Education

Although pardoned by Ohio Governor John Kasich, Kelley Williams-Bolar is still on probation while others game the system with impunity.

Kelly Williams-Bolar and her daughters

Kelley Williams-Bolar, whose felony convictions were reduced to first-degree misdemeanors by Ohio Governor John Kasich, is very grateful. The divorced mother of two was convicted in January of falsifying records so she could send her children to schools outside her district of residence. In spite of a parole board that ruled unanimously to deny her a pardon, Gov. Kasich felt the penalty was excessive and gave her a second chance.

“I thank God, first of all,” she says. “Then all the people who called radio stations, who sent letters and e-mails.” She went on to thank ColorofChange.org and Change.org, her legal counsel from the Ohio Justice and Policy Center in Cincinnati, and Gov. Kasich.

Williams-Bolar will remain on probation until the two years are up (she has less than 18 months to go), but she is no longer restricted to traveling within 100 miles of her Akron home as she was although she was not a violent offender and had no previous record.  She is paying the cost of prosecution on a payment plan and has about $700 more to pay.

Unfortunately, Williams-Bolar’s father, Edward Williams, who owns a home in the Copley-Fairlawn school district, has been in jail since June. Convicted of charges brought against him that were unrelated to Williams-Bolar’s case, he now has a criminal record. He is 65 years old and not in good health.

At the website Crooks and Liars , the Williams-Bolar case is compared with that of a wealthy white family, the Ebners, who as of December 2010 had successfully gamed the system: They got no jail time, no prosecution, no payment plan.

Williams-Bolar’s case drew wide attention across the country and resonated with black families who have struggled for decades to obtain an education that prepares their children for college or career.

To read more about the education crisis in African American communities, read the first in a series of articles, Black America’s Education Crisis—and What You Can Do about It.” in the September issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine. The series continues in our October, November, and December issues—don’t miss it!

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