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Ohio Gov. Asked to Pardon Mom Jailed in School Enrollment Fraud

Feb 8, 2011 – 2:20 PM
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Hugh Collins

Hugh Collins Contributor

The governor of Ohio has received 165,000 petition signatures asking him to pardon Kelley Williams-Bolar, the woman who spent 10 days in jail for fraudulently enrolling her children in a more desirable school district.

Three nonprofit groups -- ColorofChange.org, Change.org and MomsRising.org -- delivered the petition to Gov. John Kasich's office Monday, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The groups want Kasich to pardon Williams-Bolar, 40, whose felony convictions could disqualify her from becoming a school teacher.
Summit County Deputies escort Kelley Williams-Bolar out of the courtroom after she is sentenced to sentenced to 10 days in the Summit County Jail, three years of probation following her release and 80 hours of community service in the Summit County Courthouse, Tuesday, January 18, 2011 in Akron, Ohio.
Akron Beacon Journal / MCT
Summit County deputies escort Kelley Williams-Bolar out of the courtroom Jan. 18 after her sentencing.

"She has been robbed of the opportunity to elevate her life and the lives of her family through her own hard work," the petition on Change.Org says. "She has been handed what equates to a life sentence for attempting to protect her children."

Williams-Bolar said she registered her two daughters for school using her father's address because she feared for their safety at their home in Akron if they were home alone after school.

The school district said the cost of educating the girls was $36,000 and prosecuted Williams-Bolar on felony charges of tampering with residency records.

"We're still gathering facts on it," Rob Nichols, the governor's spokesman, said Monday. "People feel passionately about it, and we're grateful to them for expressing their concerns."

The case provoked an outcry, with many saying that Williams-Bolar, a single mother, was victimized because she is African-American.

Some even went so far as to equate her with Rosa Parks, the Alabama woman who sparked the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in 1955.

But not everyone thought the comparison was justified. Writing in The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss said that Parks showed more courage by publicly defying an unjust law.

"Williams-Bolar didn't take a public stand, nor did she decide to give up her public housing subsidy and move in with her father so her children could legally go to the school she preferred," Strauss wrote. "That's a different story."
Filed under: Nation, Crime
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