Sure, she broke the law.
Kelley Williams-Bolar falsified documents, and she served nine days in jail.
But the underlying issue isn't resolved: In Ohio, the quality of your child's education is based on your zip code.
For the past two years, Williams-Bolar used her father's mailing address to enroll her girls in the suburban Copley-Fairlawn City School District, instead of Akron Public Schools. Copley-Fairlawn is considered a highly regarded school district, and it's one that received the highest marks from the state last year, "excellent with distinction." To be fair, the city district in Akron also received a good score. It was designated in "continuous improvement," the state's third-highest rating.
Still, the Akron mom drove her daughters, 7 and 12 years old, from their city home to a bus stop in the Copley-Fairlawn district. The trip from Akron to Copley takes just 16 minutes, but the short distance meant her girls had a place to go after school: Their grandfather's home in Copley Township.
A single mom, Williams-Bolar said she wasn't about to let her daughters become "latchkey kids," and she is trying to make their lives better as she works and attends college part time.
The mother's case has recently received national attention, and Williams-Bolar told the Plain Dealer:
"I'm just a mom."
But she's ‘just a mom' who is trying to do what she feels is best for her children. And, unfortunately, the quality of a child's education does depend on their zip code.
That's not to pit urban schools against suburban ones, because many city schools are doing a fabulous job educating their students. Still, some fall through the cracks, and State Superintendent Deb Delisle is the first to admit it, and she's made it her priority, stating:
"I truly believe all students have the potential to succeed and that all students, regardless of their zip code, income, race, gender or disability should receive the highest quality education we can provide."
Growing up, my zip code was 45651.
Sure, I had some good teachers at Vinton County High School, but I am certain my education was not as good as the education children receive in the Copley-Fairlawn schools or the Akron City district, for that matter.
I took every college-prep class my school district, situated smack in Appalachian Ohio, offered. Still, I had to work five times as hard as my classmates from Columbus and Cleveland and the Akron and Canton areas at Ohio University. Why? They had the opportunity to take a much wider range of classes, such as sociology and psychology, in high school (while I'd never even heard of Sigmund Freud). They were required to read classics, such as "The Catcher in the Rye" and "To Kill a Mockingbird," while we were just trying to get by on aging, outdated textbooks. I never had the opportunity to participate in a high school play (we couldn't afford it, not even one). Heck, when I attended Vinton County High School, we didn't even have a cafeteria.
It's little wonder the majority of my graduating class of about 100 didn't make it through their first year of college.
So, I don't blame this Akron mom for wanting better for her girls — even if it meant breaking the law to do it.