Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar can breathe a lot easier. Gov. John Kasich has used his executive clemency authority to reduce felony offenses against the single mother of two to misdemeanors. Williams-Bolar said the governor’s ruling will make it easier for her to keep her job as a special education teacher’s assistant in Akron public schools.
Williams-Bolar’s story stoked national outrage. Initially charged with a third-degree felony and sentenced to ten days in prison, Williams-Bolar was guilty of wanting to send her two daughters to a safe school. After the Copley-Fairlawn school district discovered Williams-Bolar and her children were living part-time with her father in that school district, she was investigated, ordered to pay $30,000 in back tuition and was convicted of falsifying her residency records. She served a suspended sentence of ten days and was released on January 18, one day early, after being given credit for time served; she was also given two years of probation and 80 hours of community service.
“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. 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.”
Parents in the Copley-Fairlawn school district expressed understanding about the change in Williams-Bolar’s convictions:
“From my standpoint I guess I’d be a little disappointed,” said Eric Putt when he learned about the governor’s move. “At the same time people deserve a second chance,” he added.
“So I guess I’d be happy that she had an opportunity to maybe clear her name and maybe do something good in her life,” he said.
Bridget Shy wishes Williams-Bolar had done what she did when she moved to Ohio years ago actually move to the district where you want your kids to go. Even still she agreed the felony stain is too much.
“You know what she did was wrong but I don’t think she needs to be punished severely,” she said, where she can’t take care of her family.
Thank you to everyone who signed the petition on behalf of Williams-Bolar. Let’s hope this new school is full of much success and achievement for Williams-Bolar and her daughters.
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Photo from The Curvature