Today I received a reply to my post, “Black Mom Jailed for Sending Kids to White School,” arguing that Kelly Williams-Bolar was in jail for refusing to admit guilt. This is not entirely true. Three others were found guilty of a similar offense and were offered the chance to pay the “tuition” they “stole” from the Copley Township School District. They chose to pay and did not have to go to jail. Had Williams-Bolar paid the $30,000, she too might have been off the hook.
It was not so much an issue of admitting guilt as one of extortion. After all, the courts do not generally allow thieves to steal and then apologize and return the stolen property in exchange for their freedom. Ms. Williams-Bolar did not actually steal anything and there wasn’t any actual property that she could return. To her credit, she was reported as saying from jail, “If I had to do it all over again, would I have done it?. . .I would have done it again. . . but I would have been more detailed.”
Of course, if she had $30,000 to give to the school district, she probably wouldn’t have been living in a housing project in the first place, and very likely would have had a better neighborhood school for her daughters to go to, thus negating the desire to get them into the Copley School District.
Property is Theft
Like most legal proceedings, this was about property rights, not morality or right and wrong. Copley Township schools were fighting to keep their schools white and middle class, and to maintain their children’s social advantage. Williams-Bolar was punished in order to send a message to others to keep off their property. This message was so important to the Copely School District that they spent $6,000 on a private investigator to spy on her and try to dig up proof she didn’t live in Copely.
One hundred parents were initially charged with falsifying records to get their children into the Copely School District. However, 96 were able to “prove” that they were entitled to be there and were let off the hook, according the ABC news. ABC did not mention how they were able to prove their legitimacy, nor did they investigate the validity of these claims, which may or may not have been true. Williams-Bolar also provided evidence she lived in the district and even produced several documents, including a W-2 form, to support these claims. Perhaps she just wasn’t able to afford as good an attorney as the others and perhaps the others had not been subjected to $6,000 worth of surveillance.
A Glimmer of Hope
Williams-Bolar was visited in jail by State Representative Zack Milovich, who says he will fight to help her realize her dream of becoming a school teacher. This may require changing some laws or giving her a pardon, as she was convicted of a felony and the state Department of Education bans felons from teaching in Ohio.