Gov Kasich Reduces Felony Convictions To Misdemeanors Of Akron Mom Jailed For Sending Her Children To A Better School District

Submitted by JournalistKathy... on Sat, 09/10/2011 - 03:45.

 Ohio Gov John Kasich

Kelley Williams-Bolar

The Rev. Al Sharpton

From the Metro Desk of The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (

In the wake of two third-degree felony convictions and the jailing earlier this year of an Akron, Oh. Black single mother for lying on school applications to send her children to a neighboring predominantly White suburban school district with the hope of getting them a better education away from the housing projects where the family lives, Republican Gov. John Kasich used his executive clemency authority on Wed and reduced the charges to misdemeanors. 

“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," said Kasich in a press release "So, today I’ve reduced those felony convictions to what I think are the more appropriate, first degree misdemeanors. No one should interpret this as a pass—it’s a second chance."

Kelly Williams- Bolar, 40, can now continue pursuit of a teaching degree that would have been barred by the felonies. At the time an Akron schools assistant teacher, she spent nine days in jail for falsifying documents with her father's address to enroll her two daughters in the nearby Copley-Fairlawn School District rather than sending the children to Akron Public Schools, an action that sparked a celebrated case that highlights America's have and have- nots, and one that quickly gained national attention and support from Civil Rights activists like The Rev. Al. Sharpton, president of The National Action Network. 

Governor since Jan., Kasich could have issued a pardon but chose to reduce the convictions instead, and after the parole board outright rejected Williams- Bolar's request for a recommendation to the governor for a pardon. And the governor could use some good press as he battles the state's unions on Senate Bill 5, a law passed  by the state legislature earlier this year that dismantles collective bargaining but is stalled until voters decide the issue in Nov after unions across the state collected the necessary signatures for a ballot referendum.

"Reducing the felony convictions to misdemeanors is a good thing, particularly because of Ohio's inequitable school funding formula," said Debbie Kline, of Cleveland Jobs With Justice, a grassroots organization that is campaigning against Senate Bill 5 and that fights for a conglomerate of some 42 unions such as The Cleveland Teachers Union. 

A long time community activist, Sharpton agreed, at least earlier this year.

“Yes,” said Sharpton to the question from The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog. Com earlier this year of whether Kasich should lead the charge to push the state legislature to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court's mandate to revise its inequitable and unconstitutional system of funding education where through property taxes for schools comes property rich and property poor school districts. And Sharpton said that Williams-Bolar's kids were being discriminated against by the system.

“The issue is about equal education and equal protection and I'm here about a bigger picture,” he said at a rally for Williams-Bolar in Akron in Feb that drew attendance from grassroots organizations such as The Imperial Women. “Where you live should not have any bearing on how you are treated.”

Williams- Bolar also had support from a national group dubbed whose members reportedly sent Kasich nearly a quarter million emails on her behalf since Jan. 

Journalist and Community Activist Kathy Wray Coleman can be reached at 216-932-3114 and ktcoleman8 [at] aol [dot] com

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