The jailing of an Akron, Ohio, mother for falsifying documents so that her daughters could attend a suburban public school has prompted a national outcry over the predicament of a parent seeking the best education for her children, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Activists, celebrities, and grass-roots groups are defending Kelley Williams-Bolar, 40, a single mother who served nine days in jail last month after a jury found her guilty of falsifying government documents, including using her father’s address to enroll the two girls — then 7 and 12 — in a highly regarded district.
News images of the black woman — wearing a black-and-white-striped jail jumpsuit as she was led to a cell — have raised charges of racism and over-the-top prosecution. Thousands of people signed petitions calling for a governor’s pardon. As supporters demand equal access to good schools, their newly adopted poster child, Williams-Bolar, isn’t quite in step: She says that moving her daughters out of the Akron schools was more about their safety after school than their education. Because she was working as a teaching assistant and going to college part time, her daughters would have come home to an empty house in Akron. Instead, they went to the home of their grandfather, who looked after them. Whatever her reasons for putting the girls in the ssuburban system, debate lingers over whether the punishment fit the crime. “This can’t be oversimplified,” said Laurie Cramer, spokeswoman for county Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. “It’s not a story that fits on a bumper sticker.”