Kelley Williams-Bolar has been found guilty of two third-degree felonies in Ohio for falsifying residency documents to send her girls to school in her father’s suburban school district rather than her own poorer one. The afrosphere is livid. Noted one (not entirely coherent) black blogger : “The judge actually wanted to give her two consecutive five-year sentences and reduced it to 10 days in prison and THREE YEARS on probation plus 80 hours of community service. WT..??! As a result of two felony convictions, Williams-Bolar is being denied completing her teacher training certification. A better job thwarted because she did what so many parents do all the time here in NYC.”
Every September, I wait for the crush of stories like this one, having grown up in the inner city where such ruses are the norm. How our better-off relatives must have feared the onslaught of “requests” to “lemme use your address, Auntie. It’s for the kids.” But this story is unusual in the lengths to which both the mom and the school district went to “get” each other. Williams-Bolar apparently wouldn’t back down from insisting that her kids lived at the given address even as the equally dogged district hired detectives to trail and film her. I’m guessing that cost more than the $30,500 in purloined tuition the school claims to be trying to prevent. But we all know none of this is the point.
Obviously, the district, and the courts, were trying to make an example of Williams-Bolar to stem the tide of what all know to be a tsunami of wrongful registration. But the real issue here is the fairness of confining school tax dollars solely to the communities which generated them. That’s always struck me as selfish at best, racist/classist at worst.
These are difficult questions but here’s one I don’t find difficult at all: Would I also do whatever it took to get my kids an excellent, let alone safe, education?