On Jan. 18, Kelley Williams-Bolar, of Akron, was sentenced to 10 days in Summit County Jail and received two years probation for two counts of tampering with records. Bolar was convicted of providing false records to enroll her two children in Copley-Fairlawn Schools. The case was presented to the Summit County Prosecutor by Copley-Fairlawn Schools after an investigator hired by the district discovered that the children did not live with their grandparents, as the mother had claimed.
Fairlawn-Bath Patch: Were you happy with the sentence Williams-Bolar received?
Superintendent Brian Poe: It was a very difficult but necessary process. The sentencing wasn't as important a factor as that we felt strongly that we were going to follow state law. According to state law, you can attend our district -- which does not have open enrollment -- if you live here, or if you pay tuition.
We just passed a levy. We need to be good stewards of that tax money and make sure it stays in the community.
Patch: How much is tuition, and how much does it cost to educate a student in your district?
BP: The state sets the tuition amount, it's $6,300. It costs approximately $9,500 to educate a student here.
Patch: Where are the Williams-Bolar children now?
BP: They have been withdrawn from the district.
Patch: What was the process that led the district to take evidence to the prosecutor?
BP: We worked with the family for more than two years. It started before I became superintendent. There was a residency hearing and a significant amount of communication.
Patch: Have there been similar incidents, students who are enrolled illegally?
BP: My best estimate is that over the last three years there have been about 50 incidents. In about 99 percent of those cases we find a way to work with the family. Sometimes they pay tuition, sometimes they voluntarily withdraw.
Patch: How do you know where your students live?
BP: Every family completes a residency affadavit. They present identification, utility bills and other proof of residency.
Patch: You have three full-time investigators looking into allegations related to improper enrollment. How do they decide who to look into?
BP: The investigators respond to tips. Sometimes students turn other students in. Sometimes parents call, sometimes a communication we have with a family turns up a red flag.
Patch: Recently one of your investigators retired from his police job and pleaded guilty to using a police database to research residency of parents in your district. Was that officer investigating this case?
BP: No, and we were not involved in that investigation.
Patch: I understand you sometimes charge parents for back tuition. Will you file a civil suit against Williams-Bolar?
BP: That's an option.