Back in 2011, Kelley Williams-Bolar, an African American mother of two, was arrested on felony charges for lying about her home address so her children could go to a better school. While many other parents — particularly those who are white — cheat for better education opportunities for their children and still get away with it, Williams-Bolar had to be behind bars and suffer consequences for it.
Williams-Bolar, who was occasionally homeless, was sentenced to 10 days in jail after falsifying her two daughters’ records, saying they lived in the district of a higher-performing suburban school where her father actually lived. Williams-Bolar said she did that after her home got broken into.
The school reportedly hired a private investigator to track Williams-Bolar who was seen driving her children into the district. She was then ordered to pay $30,000 in back tuition.
Included in her sentence are probation for two years and 80 hours of community service. Even more, the conviction has tainted her name and jeopardized her chance to get her teaching license that she had been working on.
Many said the case has just shown how economic and racial disparities affected education opportunities as well. Unlike white parents who can just easily pull their children out of the school when they get confronted for scamming, Black parents had to ultimately go to jail although they only want the same better opportunities for their children.
“I felt that the sentence was draconian and really, the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, it’s such a microcosm of everything that is wrong with America when it comes to access to educational quality, when it comes to economic inequality and when it comes to inequality in the criminal justice system,” Syracuse University Professor Boyce Watkins said at that time.