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Action Alert: Help mother jailed for trying to send her children to a better school (that grandfather payed taxes in)

Update: If I understand the latest news reports, I believe that this woman is presently out of jail. I think she served nine days now, and one day was forgiven for time served related to this case previously. That story (with apologies from and for the judge, which I am not clear are justified): here.

Kimberly writes: A very sad and serious matter. A mother in Ohio, Kelly Williams-Bolar, was sent to JAIL, based on her attempts to get her children into a better and safer school district. The woman and her children are black. The school district is mostly white, with an all white school board. The children’s grandfather actually lives in the better district. Full story with some commentary: here.

Action alert, with petition link and phone numbers at bottom of this post.

As some of you know, I worked as an education advocate for several years. I witnessed first hand the interaction between education law, federal rights, school lawyers, and families who are poor and/or black and brown. There are many horror stories on Long Island. But, I have not heard of one where the mom went to jail. I also know from my experience, that there are some very strong federal laws that protect people who are homeless, so that they can get educated in their new or home district. It appears to me, that a case could be made – at least morally, but perhaps legally on paper – that these children had a right to either be a resident with their grandfather, thus giving them a right to attend that district OR to claim that they were actually homeless, because their mother could not afford to keep their household in tact without the various maneuverings she ended up doing.

Regardless, the system let this family down. There should not be one school district where a mother is frightened to send her children or afraid that they will not get an adequate education, and then another Shangri-la district, with safety and success, housed and run by white people, that leaves out the poor and colored folk. It is not right. Unfortunately, it is the current reality in many cases. But, no judge should be so stupid, racist, and heartless to send a mother to jail as she tries to address the situation for her family.

Stay tuned for ways to support this mom. For now, I left a phone message on the judge’s phone, and a phone message on the School Board President’s phone. If you feel impassioned – but also polite and articulate – enough to do so, please do. The numbers are below.

In addition, there is a petition at Change.org. It goes to the Governor to try to get this woman pardoned. (Of course, you will get on the mailing list for the Change.org organization.)

Please be very respectful if you call any of these folks, especially the judge.

Judge Patricia Cosgrove
Judge’s Chambers:
(330) 642-2228

Contacts for all the board members (all white folks, I might add), of the school district who did not want these children attending, even though their grandfather resided in the district:

Members of the Copley-Fairlawn School District

Ms. Julie A. Schafer (Board President)
330-664-4999 ext. 527903
e-mail: julie.schafer@copley-fairlawn.org

Mrs. Jessica H. Vargo (Board Vice President)
330-664-4999 ext. 527586
email: jessica.vargo@copley-fairlawn.org

Mr. Kenneth A. Calderone
330-664-4999 ext. 527900

Mrs. Sue Emich
330-664-4999 ext. 527904
e-mail: sue.emich@copley-fairlawn.org

Mr. Brian E. Poe
e-mail: brian.poe@copley-fairlawn.org

Mr. John L. Wheadon
e-mail: john.wheadon@copley-fairlawn.org

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