Originally Posted by Miching~Mallecho
Why Is Kelley Williams-Bolar In Jail For Sending Her Kids To A Suburban School?
by Carol Scott January 25, 2011 06:25 PM (PT) Topics: College Access, Equal Access, Parents
Update: 11 a.m. EST, Jan. 26, 2011 Edward Williams, Kelley Williams-Bolar's father, called to clarify that her decision to enroll her children in the suburban district had nothing to do with the academic quality of the school and was because of safety issues. Williams-Bolar's house had been broken into and she'd had to file 12 different police reports due to crime in the area, he said. Enrolling the children in the district where her father lived was a safety-based decision, and Williams wants to dispel any rumors that it was based on academics.
In 2008, Kelley Williams-Bolar was just another single mom in Akron, Ohio, scrimping and saving to make sure her daughters had a better life. She was putting her kids first. Working for a teaching degree. Relying on the support of her father who lived nearby.
Tonight, she's sleeping in jail, facing three years of probation and the potential loss of her teaching career.
Why? Williams-Bolar simply sent her kids to school in a district where they did not live.
An African-American single mom living in public housing, Williams-Bolar was convicted of a felony for listing her father's address as her daughters' place of residence and sending them to school at nearby Copley-Fairlawn schools, a suburban school district, for two years.
The district hired a private investigator to track her and her daughters down. Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 10 days in jail, 80 hours of community service and three years of probation.
The punishment doesn't stop there. Williams-Bolar - currently a teaching assistant for special needs children who is earning a teaching degree - may lose her career as an educator because she's now a convicted felon. All because she wanted a better life for her daughters.
What Williams-Bolar is accused of doing is illegal. But even if she faked her daughters' address (she maintains that her daughters split their time between two homes), it's unconscionable to send her to jail, tear her family apart and ruin her chance at a steady career just because she wanted to send her kids to a different school. The sheer cruelty of the verdict - and the judge's own admission that Williams-Bolar is being punished to serve as an example for other parents - has created a tidal wave of online support. Sign the Change.org petition today.
In just eight hours, more than 1,000 have signed a Change.org member-created petition to reduce her sentence. Supporters have overtaken Twitter with the hashtag #savekellywilliamsbolar (sic), using http://bit.ly/williamsbolar
to link to the petition.
It's a sad truth that public schools in American vary widely in quality, safety and affluence. Kids in one zip code can get top-notch teachers and swanky classrooms while kids just a few miles away make do with cast-off books and rat-infested hallways. Your education can determine your future - and Williams-Bolar wanted her daughters to have a brighter one.
Williams-Bolar's family maintains that the switch was not academically-based, and was rather for the safety of her daughters. She told the court that she'd been scared for her daughters' safety in Akron, and that there was no intention at all to deceive school officials. But that wasn't enough for Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove, who thought her behavior deserved a felony conviction.
A growing number of advocates and activists are speaking out about the racial and social ramifications of this case. Among them is Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University, a well-known professor and speaker who wrote about the Williams-Bolar case on his blog.
"This case is a textbook example of everything that remains racially wrong with America’s educational, economic and criminal justice systems," he wrote. "There is no logical reason on earth why this mother of two should be dehumanized by going to jail and be left permanently marginalized from future economic and educational opportunities. Even if you believe in the laws that keep poor kids trapped in underperforming schools, the idea that this woman should be sent to jail for demanding educational access is simply ridiculous."
When reached by telephone by Change.org earlier this evening, Williams-Bolar's father Edward Williams - who's also facing criminal charges
- was grateful for the support shown by the Change.org community. He told us that the National Action Network, Akron Chapter, is leading on-the-ground efforts for Williams-Bolar.
A National Action Network representative also told us tonight that Williams-Bolar is in need of financial help to pay for legal fees, as she's planning to appeal the judge's verdict
. You can send donations to the National Action Network Akron Chapter, c/o Kelley Williams-Bolar, P.O. Box 4152, Akron, Ohio, 44321. Checks can be made payable to Williams-Bolar.
And keep checking Change.org for more updates about this ongoing campaign.