ABC News is reporting on the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar in Akron, OH.
Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district. She was sentenced to five years in prison, but the sentenced was suspended for all but 10 days and she got 1 day credit for time served so she ended up serving 9 days of the 5 year sentence. She must also serve 80 hours of community service and is on probation for three years.
“It’s overwhelming. I’m exhausted,” she said. “I did this for them, so there it is. I did this for them.”
Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District.
But it wasn’t her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district’s boundaries.
The school district accused Williams-Bolar of lying about her address, falsifying records and, when confronted, having her father file false court papers to get around the system.
Despite all the handwringing and sympathy for Kelley Williams-Bolar as a mom just trying to look out for her kids, you will have to listen hard to hear that she is not quite the singled-out victim portrayed in the media and did not just lie one time on one form but many times on many forms including federal forms to get free lunches.
Buried within the breathless reporting, are a few facts which upend the sympathy meme going around today.
The district did a residency audit. That audit flagged 100 families. Not one. One hundred. She was one of the one hundred. All 100 families were all offered the chance to prove they were residents, leave quietly or stay and pay the tuition costs. Williams-Bolar alone among all of these 100 families chose to file fraudulent documents with the the district and later with the court and induced others to lie for her to the district and perjure themselves. These are all serious crimes regardless of the underlying crime. For these crimes she got 9 days in jail.
Much is made of the district hiring a private investigator. This was only necessary because Williams-Bolar lied and so the district needed to demonstrate to the court that their claim that Williams-Bolar was not a resident were true. Had she told the truth no PI would have been hired.
In the ABC News report, the reporter says the 97 who did not pay tuition either proved they were residents or left. Note the wiggle room there. The number who proved residency is a known quantity. Same for the number who left the district without a fight. ABC News chose not to report the individual figures and just lumped them together. Why would they do that? Simple, if 5 families were actually residents of the district and the 92 were not then it would upset the “victim” narrative by showing that the district’s audit was highly accurate and that 91 families admitted they did not belong and left leaving just Williams-Bolar as sole person who was caught and lied rather than fess up and leave.
Robin Roberts described Williams-Bolar as “accused” when, in fact, Williams-Bolar already had a trial and had been convicted and sentenced then asks whether she was “justified” in lying to the district, lying in federal documents, perjuring herself and inducing her father to commit perjury.
While in jail, Williams-Bolar tells a reporter “this is not a murder trial”. First of all she had a trial and was convicted so there is no present tense here. She stole tens of thousands of dollars in tax payer money. What to make of that “I stole $30,000 from the school district but did not kill any one” defense”? Maybe bank robbers and con men and counterfeiters and embezzlers can try that some time and see how it works out. Hyperbole aside it was NOT a murder a trial which is why only served 9 days in jail. Murdered usually get longer sentences.
One woman interviewed by ABC News asks why Williams-Bolar was singled out. Answer: she wasn’t. She singled herself out by refusing to tell the truth and forcing the district to pursue criminal charges. The other 99 families resolved the matter by admitting guilt or proving their innocence. She was guilty, got caught, had her day in court and lost. This is how the criminal justice system works.
This is hardly a remote issue for New Rochelle. The Board of Education has ignored repeated calls for a residency audit as was done in Mount Vernon and Ossinning and elsewhere in the area. It is not because they do not think the audit will turn up non-residents with children in our schools but the opposite — they know that an audit will turn up hundreds of wrongly enrolled students in our schools.