Agency probing mother's residency
Akron woman whose girls went to Copley under AMHA scrutiny
An Akron mother in jail for improperly enrolling her children in Copley-Fairlawn schools cleared one hurdle Tuesday but faces another.
Kelley Williams-Bolar's conviction for falsifying documents to enroll her two children in the suburban district prompted questions about whether she violated voter registration laws and public housing regulations.
The Summit County elections board referred the voter registration question Tuesday to the county prosecutor's office, but the prosecutor declined to pursue the issue, saying it was too similar to what landed Williams-Bolar in jail.
The Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA), however, sent Williams-Bolar and her attorney a letter Tuesday, saying the public housing agency wants to meet with her when she gets out of jail.
''We are reviewing it,'' said Tony O'Leary, AMHA's executive director. ''We'd like to have her meet — when available — with her legal counsel to go over her
At issue will be whether Williams-Bolar's children were living with her at her Hartford Avenue home in Akron the majority of the time and whether she was paying the proper amount of rent, O'Leary said.
''We need to verify just what was what,'' he said, adding that she financially qualified for public housing.
Williams-Bolar has said she split her time between her Hartford Avenue home and her father's Copley Township home. However, prosecutors said she and her children were living in Akron, which would have precluded the children from attending Copley-Fairlawn schools.
Williams-Bolar, 40, a single mother going to college and working as a teaching assistant at Buchtel High School, is serving the ninth day of a 10-day sentence after her conviction.
The unusual case has garnered national attention and raised red flags around town, including at the elections board.
''We felt it was our duty to take this to the prosecutor's office so they could take whatever action they felt was appropriate,'' said Ron Koehler, the board's deputy director.
When Williams-Bolar voted in 2008, she used her father's address on Black Pond Drive in Copley Township.
The prosecutor's office opted not to pursue additional charges.
''The law recognizes that, under certain circumstances, there can be only one conviction and sentence for an ongoing scheme involving the same crime,'' said Laurie Cramer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office.
If prosecutors had gone forward with the case, Williams-Bolar might have been charged with tampering with records, a felony, or false registration or illegal voting, also felonies, Cramer said.
Williams-Bolar changed her address with the elections board in August 2004 to Hartford Avenue in Akron. She voted a provisional ballot in March 2008 using her father's address in Copley Township. She cast an absentee ballot in the November 2008 election, again using the Copley address, and hasn't voted since, according to election records.
O'Leary said AMHA's query will look at Williams-Bolar's current housing situation, as well as her past status. He said size of household is a factor in calculating the amount of rent.
''We need to determine, with her help, if her kids were living with her,'' he said. ''If they were, that's probably not an issue. If not, she would have been required to report that to us and there would have been an adjustment to her rent.''
Residents must provide information to AMHA annually, verifying household size and income, O'Leary said.
To be eligible for public housing, a person generally cannot earn more than 60 percent of the median household income. In Summit County, the median income for all families is about $47,000.
AMHA routinely looks into eligibility questions, such as household size or income level. This can result in residents being asked to pay what is owed and, if they don't, possibly being evicted, O'Leary said.
Residents are entitled to a hearing when questions arise, he said.
''Initially, we will just have an informational meeting,'' O'Leary said of the inquiry into Williams-Bolar's status. ''We will meet with her and her attorney and advise her — at that point — what her rights are.''
Kerry O'Brien, Williams-Bolar's attorney, didn't return a phone message Tuesday seeking comment.
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