Kelley Williams-Bolar has won a reprieve. The Ohio mother who served jail time earlier this year for falsifying information to enroll her children in the Copley-Fairlawn City Schools has had her felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich – going against the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board – reduced the charges Sept. 7. Ms. Williams-Bolar had been particularly concerned about having a felony record, which could block her hoped-for career in education.
“No one should interpret this as a pass – it’s a second chance,” Governor Kasich said.
Thousands of people from around the country lobbied for the single African-American mother, partly because they related to her story of wanting her children to attend school and go to their grandfather’s house after school in a safer environment than their nearby Akron neighborhood.
“The energy in support of Ms. Williams-Bolar and her family has been tremendous, and today we are pleased that she will be able to move on in her life without the burden of felony convictions haunting her every step of the way,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, in a statement Wednesday. A petition on her behalf was signed by nearly 70,000 members of Mr. Robinson's online political group devoted to issues of concern to Black Americans.
But her case also triggered reactions from people who felt she could have met her children’s needs legally.
On Sept. 2, the Ohio Parole Board voted unanimously to recommend denying clemency. “Ms. Williams-Bolar was faced with a no more difficult situation than any other working parent who must ensure that their children are safe ... Most parents find legitimate and legal options to address this issue. Ms. Williams-Bolar’s only response was to be deceitful,” the board’s report says.