Governor reduces Kelley Williams-Bolar felony convictions to misdemeanors

COLUMBUS, Ohio - He chose to stray from the parole board's recommendation. Gov. John Kasich instead used his executive clemency authority to reduce the felony offenses of the Akron mother in the school district switching case.

Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted in January 2011 of two felony records tampering charges. The Akron mother lied and used her father's address to illegally enroll her two daughters into the Copley-Fairlawn School District and spent nine days in jail.

"When I first heard about this situation, it seemed to me that the penalty was excessive for the offense. In addition, the penalty could exclude her from certain economic opportunities for the rest of her life. So, today I've reduced those felony convictions to what I think are the more appropriate, first degree misdemeanors. No one should interpret this as a pass. It's a second chance," said Kasich, in a news release.

Williams-Bolar's attorney said the governor's ruling will make it easier for her to keep her job as a teacher's aide.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh released this statement:

"I greatly appreciate the time and care the jury took when considering this case. After hearing all of the evidence, the jury upheld the laws set forth by the Ohio legislature that state that tampering with government documents is a felony offense. And I was pleased that the Ohio Parole Board also carefully considered all of the facts on this case, including information that was discovered between the conclusion of Ms. Williams-Bolar's trial and her clemency hearing.

"Governor Kasich is not required to uphold a jury's verdict, nor must he follow the Parole Board's recommendation to reject clemency, even when that recommendation is unanimous."

Five days ago, the parole board rejected Williams-Bolar's plea for clemency, citing "Ms. Williams-Bolar's only response was to be deceitful."

At Copley High School Wednesday night parents of students in the district, while not approving of Williams-Bolar's actions were understanding.

"From my standpoint I guess I'd be a little disappointed," said Eric Putt when he learned about the governor's move. "At the same time people deserve a second chance," he added. 

"So I guess I'd be happy that she had an opportunity to maybe clear her name and maybe do something good in her life," he said.

Bridget Shy wishes Williams-Bolar had done what she did when she moved to Ohio years ago actually move to the district where you want your kids to go.  Even still she agreed the felony stain is too much.

"You know what she did was wrong but I don't think she needs to be punished severely," she said, where she can't take care of her family.

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