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Five Minutes with: Copley-Fairlawn Superintendent Brian Poe

School chief said prosecution of woman who gave false information to enroll her children in Copley-Fairlawn Schools was necessary -- and the district is actively looking for more offenders.

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BP: They have been withdrawn from the district.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.

lsrk211 January 28, 2011 at 11:24 PM
I'm so disgusted by Brian Poe and Copley-Fairlawn school district. I'm actually embarrassed to be an American right now. How many black children even attend this school? I have a feeling the number is ten. It's funny this feels like Rosa Parks ... it was illegal for her to sit at the front of the bus, but she did it anyway, and she was in her right to do it. Poor, black children are simply not entitled to have a good education in this country and it's nice to see the good ole white folk enforcing this injustice!
bob lang January 29, 2011 at 02:54 AM
Instead of "having a feeling" about how many black children attend the school, why don't you get some facts. I have always been a srong supporter of civil rights but I don't see this as the issue. Let's take race out of the equation for a change. As was stated in the article, the school worked with this individual for two years. That seems to be bending over backwards especally when ninety per cent of the other cases were solved with much less of a problem.
lsrk211 January 29, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Unfortunately the only facts on the case that Brian Poe has mentioned is they tried the settle the case by asking her to pay back tuition of $30,000, this doesn't sound like they tried to figure out a reasonable way to help her. The felony charge is not just heart breaking it's mean especially reading that this woman works as a nurses aid, while going to school to get a teaching degree & raising 2 children. I grew up in an area with excellent public schools. I also remember and everyone, including teachers, knew that one of my classmate's parents, because they had the money, rented a cheap apartment in the district so he could go to our school to get a better education (this was in the 70's). Maybe the case specifics is not racial motivated but it certainly is an economic discrimination. On paper it may look like she broke the law and should be punished, but this country has had many unjust laws that needed to be broken to get the attention needed to see how wrong they are. A school system that pays people $100 for information on "out of district kids" attending their school sounds similar to life with the Stasi police, and the communist government paying people to report on friends. This is racial problem, it's harder for a black child to get a good education than it is for a white child. I'd still like to know how many black children actually attend this school ... it would be interesting to find out. (I still bet it's under 10)
Socialist Worker February 12, 2011 at 07:42 PM
In essence this women was charged with and convicted of stealing public education for her children. The Supreme court ruled in Brown vs. Board of education that seperate but equal is inherently unequal. It ruled that way because there had never been equal education provided to black children. It also ruled that this needed to be remedied with all delibert speed. So fifty plus years later this still continues to be a problem. If the problem was tution than there would be a simple solution of transfering money from Akron School district to Copley Fairlawn. "School Boss" Poe was quoted in a KSU interview as stating that there was an additonal problem because Copley Fairlawn is a small district. This could be remedied by merging the district with Akron. Something the good white folk of Copley Fairlawn would most likely oppose. Taking an unlimited enrollment could result in having classes in the Gyms, auditoriums, and rooms reserved for art, music, and labs like in many other American big cities. As far as Poe having worked for a solution his was as simple as any other white township in the 1950's. Nigger either go home or pay up. Sure he has prettied it up talking about protecting tax money and having correct records but the result is the same as if he had used the more crude way of saying and doing.

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