AKRON, Ohio - A Summit County jury will decide if a mother and her father are guilty of illegally enrolling children in the Copley-Fairlawn School District.
Kelly Williams-Bolar, 40, of Akron, and Edward Williams, of Copley Township, are facing felony counts of tampering with records and grand theft.
Opening statements took place Wednesday before Judge Patricia Cosgrove.
Court records indicate that two of Williams-Bolar's children were enrolled in Copley-Fairlawn schools between 2006 and 2008. However, the district contends the children did not live within district boundaries, and therefore, they should not have attended the schools without paying tuition.
In court, Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Teri Burnside referred to the allegations as "theft of educational services."
The defense is expected to argue that the kids were living with their grandfather in Copley Township and that residency laws were not broken.
Copley-Fairlawn does not have open enrollment.
The estimated cost for tuition is about $800 per month, according to Superintendent Brian Poe.
Poe said the district has discovered about 50 cases in the past couple of years of students who should not have been attending Copley-Fairlawn schools, which are rated excellent by the state of Ohio.
"We'll get a number of phone calls that folks are not living within the district from neighbors," Poe said.
This case is unusual because residency disputes involving school districts rarely go to trial. The cases are usually handled when parents prove their residency or they withdraw their children from the district.
Poe would not discuss the allegations against Williams-Bolar and her father because of the ongoing trial, but he said the district takes residency requirements very seriously.
"We're good stewards of our taxpayers' dollars and it's something that we will abide by," Poe said.
The more serious charge, tampering with records, carries a potential penalty of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
NewsChannel5 reporter Bob Jones will report on the developments from inside the courtroom tonight on NewsChannel 5 at 6 p.m. Keep checking newsnet5.com for more information.
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