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Mom jailed for trying to get her kids a better education

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How far would you go to sneak your kids into a better school?

In a case that has sparked widespread debate in the United States, a single mom in Ohio paid for the deception with a 10-day jail sentence and 80 hours of community service this month for falsifying records, after using her father's address to get her teenage daughters into a safer school with a better academic record.

Kelley Williams-Bolar, 40, and her father were also charged with grand theft, accused by school district officials of defrauding the school system of $35,000 in tuition fees over two years.

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Ms. Williams-Bolar lives with her daughters in subsidized housing in a high-crime area known for its struggling schools, according to the Akron-Beacon Journal. (School officials, who have been cracking down on faked school transfers, reportedly discovered the truth by hiring a private investigator to follow Ms Williams-Bolar when she picked up her daughters at school.)

After word of the controversial decision quickly went viral on Facebook and on the national media, Ms. Williams-Bolar was released one day into her sentence. But her conviction carries a huge personal penalty: a few credits shy of a teaching degree, she now loses her chance of getting a teaching license because of a criminal record.

City officials are now looking into the case to see why it wasn't handled without laying felony charges. Ms. William-Bolar's daughters stopped attending the school in 2009.

The judge told ABC news that the sentence was meant to deter other parents from trying the same thing. "I felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school districts," Judge Patricia Cosgrove said.

Perhaps the school district could have used the money spent catching and prosecuting parents to improve the rough schools they were trying to avoid?

Just a thought.

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Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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