Elon James White at This Week in Blackness offers his take on an ethically complex, racially charged situation in Akron, Ohio.
So you probably have heard about Ms. Willams-Bolar. If not:
AKRON, Ohio – A Summit County woman will spend 10 days in jail after she was found guilty in a school residency case that could set a precedent for Ohio school districts.
Judge Patricia Cosgrove also placed 40-year-old Kelly Williams-Bolar on two years of probation and ordered her to complete 80 hours of community service.
On Saturday, a jury found Williams-Bolar guilty on two counts of tampering with records. She was also facing one count of grand theft, but the judge declared a mistrial on that charge after the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.
“I felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school systems,” Cosgrove told NewsChannel5 after the sentencing.
Prosecutors said Williams-Bolar lived in Akron, but falsified enrollment papers in the Copley-Fairlawn School District so her two girls could attend schools for two years.
Prosecutors said the lies cost the district about $30,000. Copley-Fairlawn does not have open enrollment and out-of-district tuition is about $800 per month.
There seems to be myriad responses to this case. Ranging from the impassioned response from Boyce Watkins to the “fraud is fraud” response by Bob Dyer of the Beacon Journal. Titles all over the internet have proclaimed “MOTHER IMPRISONED FOR SENDING KIDS TO WRONG SCHOOL!” implying that the only thing wrong was simply enrolling where she shouldn’t have. Under the current laws of Ohio Ms. Williams-Bolar committed a crime. This can’t be argued. What can be argued is whether the actions by the court are right and appropriate for the defendants situation
My initial reaction to this was outrage. I sat at my computer, heart pounding, eyes tearing, because when you peel all of the layers off of it a woman, who works with special education children and was attending school for her teaching degree is being vilified because she wanted something better for her children. And we can’t possibly ignore the racial aspect of this situation. A poor BLACK woman on public assistance is being jailed for sending her kids to the rich white school. I’m not arguing whether this is how it should be looked at–I’m saying thats how it is looked at. It’s now questionable whether the teaching degree she’s been working towards will be allowed because she now has a felony charge against her. A family’s life is in virtual ruins because of this situation.
And many say she deserves this.