Petition to Pardon Kelley Williams-Bolar

Please consider signing this petition at Change.org calling on Governor Kasich of Ohio to pardon Williams-Bolar for unfair sentencing.

I was infuriated yesterday when I visited The Boyce Blog (via Racialicious’s daily link roundup) to learn about a black woman in Ohio, Kelley Williams-Bolar, who is being sent to jail for sending her children to the wrong school district.  Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse writes, “She was convicted on two counts of tampering with court records after registering her two girls as living with Williams-Bolar’s father when they actually lived with her. The family lived in the housing projects in Akron, Ohio, and the father’s address was in nearby Copley Township. Additionally, Williams-Bolar’s father, Edward L. Williams, was charged with a fourth-degree felony of grand theft, in which he and his daughter are charged with defrauding the school system for two years of educational services for their girls. The court determined that sending their children to the wrong school was worth $30,500 in tuition.”

Dr. Boyce offered further analysis:

[I]t’s interesting how courts find it convenient to make someone into an example when they happen to be poor and black. I’d love to see how they prosecute wealthy white women who commit the same offense. Oh, I forgot: Most wealthy white women don’t have to send their kids to the schools located near the projects.

I’m not sure why the court is treating this law-abiding mom like a thug who ran into a building with a shotgun and robbed the district of $30,000. Instead, they could simply subtract the amount it costs for her kids to go to the second school from the amount that would be spent for them to attend the first one. I’m sure the difference would still be substantial, since American educational apartheid dictates that schools in poorer neighborhoods are of significantly less quality than other schools. The racial divisions within American schools are nothing less than a blatant and consistent human rights violation and should certainly be treated as such.

The article on Change.org points out that Ms. Williams-Bolar had nearly completed educational requirements to become a teacher in Ohio, and now will be unable to do so as a convicted felon.  What’s horrifying is that the judge, Patricia Cosgrove, was well aware of this at sentencing, saying, “Because of the felony conviction, you will not be allowed to get your teaching degree under Ohio law as it stands today. The court’s taking into consideration that is also a punishment that you will have to serve.”

Please remember to sign the petition at Change.org! And spread the word.

–Rosamund Hunter