The governor of Ohio reduced the two felony records tampering convictions against the Ohio woman who became a national talking point last January when she became a high-profile example of schools coming down tougher on parents who send their children to schools not located in their district.
Kelley Williams-Bolar, of Akron, Ohio, served nine days in jail for falsifying records to enroll her daughters in a neighboring district with higher ranked schools. Despite her father living in that district and her defense that she was worried for her children’s safety in their home school district, Williams-Bolar was found guilty and sentenced.
Gov. John Kasich’s decision to overturn the convictions and reduce them to misdemeanors came after an Ohio Parole Board unanimously agreed that the conviction should hold. Kasich said in a statement, “When I first heard about this situation, it seemed to me that the penalty was excessive for the offense. In addition, the penalty could exclude her from certain economic opportunities for the rest of her life.”
At the time of conviction, Williams-Bolar was twelve credits away from getting her teaching certificate, which a felony conviction would’ve jeopardized. She currently works as a teachers assistant in Akron, as she has since the before the trial.
Bolar-Williams told the board, “I love my kids and I would have done anything for my children.” She also said she felt remorse about lying and that she would do things differently if given the opportunity.
The conviction brought heated reactions back in January, as some people were angered that Bolar-Williams lied, while others thought the conviction and punishment were much too severe for the crime. A viral campaign sparked by Change.Org drew 184,000 signatures of people supporting the overturning of the conviction.
The controversy brought national attention to the issue of charter schools and alternative education choices for residents of poor neighborhoods with failing schools.
Gov. Kasich cautioned, ”No one should interpret this as a pass — it’s a second chance.” He is requiring Williams-Bolar to report for probation, serve 80 hours of community service, work full time, not take any drugs or drink alcohol and pay the cost of her prosecution.