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"I felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school systems."
January 25, 2011 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Kelly Williams-Bolar has been sentenced to ten days in prison in a school residency case. The African-American mother of two lives in public housing in Akron, Ohio, and forged court records so that her children could attend a better school in nearby Copley Township. Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced her to 10 days in prison, 80 hours of community service, and two years of probation. Ms. Williams-Bolar works as a special education classroom aide, and was working towards a teaching degree. Because of the felony conviction she may no longer be eligible to teach in the state of Ohio.
posted by mmmbacon (190 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've rarely seen the power of the state used so maliciously.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:06 PM on January 25, 2011 [30 favorites]


Well, forging court records is a serious crime. That's why all those mortgage processors are in jail now.
posted by odinsdream at 4:08 PM on January 25, 2011 [176 favorites]


Well she should move to a place with closer schools and better support for special ed teachers, because the honest reality is that there are no better teachers in public education than those who help the neediest to succeed.
posted by parmanparman at 4:09 PM on January 25, 2011


Wow, that's pretty insane.
posted by delmoi at 4:10 PM on January 25, 2011


Is it really a felony conviction with her going to jail for 10 days?

And yeah...she cant just go forging court docs...damn, dummy.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:11 PM on January 25, 2011


Riffing on that other thread, could they maybe try her as a child?

You know, slap on the wrist?
posted by chavenet at 4:12 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something something now, something something forever.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:12 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also...another deterrent would be to actively pursue people who are using deception to accomplish the same ends...
posted by hal_c_on at 4:12 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


School districts rely on their local tax base to pay most of their bills. They cannot afford to accept out of district students without someone picking up the tuition. There didnt appear, from the article, to be
much dispute about whether the forgery occurred. 10 days in jail for a felony is not that harsh of a punishment.
posted by PhillC at 4:13 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


School districts rely on their local tax base to pay most of their bills

Reforms in how schools are funded might help avert these kinds of tragedies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:16 PM on January 25, 2011 [39 favorites]


This column on the outcome makes a passing reference to tuition bills which were sent and 'torn up month after month', and that

By contrast, the 30 to 40 other families caught cheating during the same era either paid up or got out quickly.

Does anyone know if that's what the charge of grand theft was about?
posted by jquinby at 4:19 PM on January 25, 2011


Well, folks are beginning to petition to try to reduce the sentence:

http://criminaljustice.change.org/petitions/view/calling_for_reduction_on_appeal_of_ms_kelly_williams-bolars_unfair_sentencing_for_fraud_and_theft

That's just a damn shame. I understand there should be some sort of penalty, but why mess with her future livelihood for the rest of her life by denying her the ability to teach in Ohio? That seems to serve no purpose other than to just be an extra-super-duper helping of Fuck You.
posted by anitanita at 4:19 PM on January 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


10 days in jail for a felony is not that harsh of a punishment.

Except that the judge pointed out, and so was clearly aware, that this judgment carries with it an inability for the defendant to use the degree she's working toward or work in the field she currently works in.
posted by bizzyb at 4:21 PM on January 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


Seems to be already working in a community service field. They should give her a job.
posted by buzzman at 4:22 PM on January 25, 2011


Reforms in how schools are funded might help avert these kinds of tragedies.

Ontario did this, moving funding from the local level to the provincial level. Not every reform makes things better. You can now send your kid to any of the underfunded schools throughout the province.
posted by GuyZero at 4:22 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Forging court records is wrong. The way schools are funded in most of the US is also wrong, in my book, but forging records doesn't do anything to change the situation; it just perpetuates the situation for everyone else's kids. I have tremendous compassion for her wish to find her kids better schools, but forging is a crime for very good reasons. I wish there was a happy answer here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:22 PM on January 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


"10 days in jail for a felony is not that harsh of a punishment."

The ten days is not the punishment. It's the felony rap, which will make the rest of this woman's life difficult. Also if the OP hadn't put it in the post woulda been an easy guess that this woman is black, as minorities are much more likely to get fucked over with ticky-tacky felonies.
posted by aerotive at 4:22 PM on January 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


Too bad there wasn't an Ohio judge who, a few years back, felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for individuals who might think to defraud the US electoral system.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:23 PM on January 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


When I was a kid there were dozens of families lying about where they lived so their kids could go to a different school. All people involved were middle class white folks and strangely none of them were ever charged with forgery.

There was even a subplot on last season's Friday Night Lights about this and the only punishment anybody suffered was their kids had to go to their assigned school.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:23 PM on January 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


but why mess with her future livelihood for the rest of her life by denying her the ability to teach in Ohio?

Of all the people to know the gravity of her actions, she should be one. Frankly, she is getting off light.

If you want to be a criminal, you should be aware of the penalties.
posted by lampshade at 4:24 PM on January 25, 2011


The "local school districts pay their own way" is stupid, and ultimately guarantees that the country's neediest kids will only very, very rarely get an education anywhere near as good as that as that of, say, rich bankers.

America, you're really fucking up.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:25 PM on January 25, 2011 [45 favorites]


If you want to be a criminal, you should be aware of the penalties.

Or at least how the penalties are selectively applied, based on race, income bracket, etc.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:25 PM on January 25, 2011 [95 favorites]


I'm all for wanting your kids to go to a better school, but this isn't how to go about it. She could have campaigned for system reform, moved to a location with better schools, worked to improve the schools in her community. Instead of working within the system provided, she chose to tamper with records; she gambled, and she lost. I'm having a hard time working up any type of sympathy for this woman.
posted by xedrik at 4:26 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last time I commented in a thread where the subject was very similar I was accused of 'eating babies.' It's been fun hanging around MeFi and having my assumptions challenged so I'll just say this.
posted by fixedgear at 4:27 PM on January 25, 2011


Well she should move to a place with closer schools and better support for special ed teachers.

I'm sure she'd get right on that if she weren't a working student and mother living in public housing. And what about the father? Maybe he wants to see his kid.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:28 PM on January 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


The African-American mother of two lives in public housing in Akron, Ohio

Just out of interest, why is the profiling relevant? It's not at all mentioned in the article, so I wonder why it was considered an important enough factor or element to be added to the OP?

Unless I am missing some nuance, that seems a little unpleasantly editorialising.
posted by Brockles at 4:28 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Note that living in public housing often requires waiting on a years-long waiting list and going through various checks and scrutiny. It's not exactly easy, or even possible at all, for most residents to just move.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:30 PM on January 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


...aaaand the answer to my question is in this article, to wit:

At issue in the mistrial charges pertaining to grand theft were the tuition fees that school officials alleged Williams-Bolar and her father owed for the two years that the children went to school there.

School district treasurer John Wheadon said the fees for both girls were about $30,500.

posted by jquinby at 4:32 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "local school districts pay their own way" is stupid, and ultimately guarantees that the country's neediest kids will only very, very rarely get an education anywhere near as good as that as that of, say, rich bankers.

Living as I do in a state where tax money is pooled and then redistributed by the state, I can assure you the grass is always greener on the other side.
posted by madajb at 4:32 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unless I am missing some nuance, that seems a little unpleasantly editorialising.

It's 'cause, as hydropsyche noted, people do this all the time. Of course, when someone gets prosecuted for it, she just happens to be black.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:34 PM on January 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Look, the system was designed to keep poor people poor and if you don't like it, then get rich.
posted by Legomancer at 4:35 PM on January 25, 2011 [54 favorites]


I'm from Akron myself, and currently living here, and I have to say that this kind of thing is pretty common--and that's why I think there did need to be a real punishment here. A school aide especially should have known better to do this. And while there are plenty of not-great schools in Akron, there's also a great library system and a lot of local children's activities. A parent who wants to provide a good education for her kids can do plenty legally to ensure that happens. If you break the law to provide your child an advantage that other kids in this area don't get, I don't think that *should* be something that just gets waved off as unimportant.

Ten days isn't much, and the probation will likely not mean anything. Her life isn't ruined. If she can't be a teacher now? Good. I don't want teachers who think that the way to deal with the flaws in the system is to exploit them to the good of some kids over others. Copley-Fairlawn has reasonably good schools, but it's not like the Akron schools here are so utterly terrible as to be completely worthless. Since, you know, I went to them myself. I don't see the least problem in doing something that keeps someone who committed fraud with the educational system from working in that system. Not, especially, since there are actually quite a lot of people around here who want to be teachers who have trouble finding full-time work. We don't need someone like that.

Sometimes things need to have real consequences.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:37 PM on January 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure how I feel about this.

One one hand, it seems wrong to basically end her career before it begins, but on the other hand, she knowingly committed fraud for a couple of years, including not only lying on a registration form, but getting her paychecks sent to her father's house.
posted by madajb at 4:38 PM on January 25, 2011


Just out of interest, why is the profiling relevant?

It is and has been very often the case in the US legal system that defendants who are white native speakers of English get significantly easier sentences, all else being equal, than defendants with other racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic self-identifications. Until that changes, it seems relevant to mention.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:44 PM on January 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


She could have campaigned for system reform

Of course. And once her campaign is completely successful (you know, the one that people have been waging since, oh, forever, with little change), I'm sure her children will be able to enroll their great-grandchildren in whichever equally funded school they would like to attend.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:44 PM on January 25, 2011 [35 favorites]


In my state, Connecticut, someone doing that is told to pay back the costs to the town where her child had illegally gone to school. I have not heard of anyone being jailed for it. It is a fairly common thing to do: those living where schools are lousy send their kids illegally to good schools, nearby (usually white schools rather than inner city schools).
But she ought to have known she was violating the law and she took a chance and lost.
Why so pernicious? Because you get lots of kids illegally in your school system and you need to pay more tax money for the education budget.
posted by Postroad at 4:46 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her disregard for the rules is the same disregard that those "rich" fat cats have. If no one respects the rules, what's the point? Use the law as a tool, it's the most powerful weapon the weak have against the strong.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:47 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


get significantly easier sentences

This woman got a 9.989 year reduction in her sentence. I'd say she got off pretty good.
posted by lampshade at 4:48 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Use the law as a tool, it's the most powerful weapon the weak have against the strong.

Hilarious.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:48 PM on January 25, 2011 [31 favorites]


Forged records so her kids could go to a better school... like in China?
posted by Catblack at 4:52 PM on January 25, 2011


Just out of interest, why is the profiling relevant?

It is and has been very often the case in the US legal system that defendants who are white native speakers of English get significantly easier sentences, all else being equal, than defendants with other racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic self-identifications. Until that changes, it seems relevant to mention.

I agree with both of you, and I actually think it should have been taken a step further. Change the picture to a white woman's picture. Say nothing else, and watch the outrage. I just mean in general, not specifically here.

If this lady looked like ... well you get the gist, this is saying nothing new. Ridiculous case. There are people who get dui's, people that sexually assault folks, that see no jail time. Ridiculous case.
posted by cashman at 4:52 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


To Messrs. Mothersbaugh and Casale:

Pump some money into some poor schools back home. Booji Boy Elementary School. C'mon. How could you not?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:54 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a crappy case, on both sides. I really feel for her, because I understand why and how it is important to give your kids the best education possible, in the best environment. I also wonder if race was a factor, only because I am aware that lots of people do this kind of thing; and all the people I know who did this kind of thing were not black. Based on my own experience, and this could be completely inapplicable, there is a larger pool of non-black people to make examples of in this situation. However, the fact that she is an educator makes her somewhat more culpable, in my opinion.

I also wonder that if it was important enough to her and her father, perhaps the easy decision would have been to move herself and her daughters to live with her father, and legally establish residence in the district. I hate to make that kind of judgment, but I know that if my choice was to either lie about residency or move in with my parents in order to get my kids into a better school district, I would do move in with my parents.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:59 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really care what the law has to say about this case. This has to be an injustice, as the punishment cancels out all the effort this person has put into improving her own life, her family's life, and the people she would be helping in her work.

Her disregard for the rules is VERY different than the disregard of the rich fat cats.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 5:00 PM on January 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Rules is rules.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:01 PM on January 25, 2011


Well, put me in the outraged column.

As someone noted above, it is very hard to get public housing. And once you're there -- 30% of your income is your rent, more or less. I don't know about the housing situation in her neck of the woods, but paying 30% of your income on rent is an amazingly valuable situation if one doesn't have much money at all.

So she can't move to a wealthier school district. This shit happens in Philly all over the place; the Philly schools are (at least from what a teacher tells me) in some places just dangerous, bad places, where the kids are calling teachers bitches and throwing chairs and shit and nothing is done about it. So parents break the law. Because the situation is profoundly fucked up, because municipalities are failing all over the place, and the current magic solution seems to be blaming the teachers/ teachers unions.

I think the woman may have done what she needed to do for her kids. I think that her life is now ruined because of the felony conviction (seriously, she won't be able to do much of anything).


And people are all, she broke the law, bad woman. Man, I am so many light years from that I do not get it at all.
posted by angrycat at 5:03 PM on January 25, 2011 [39 favorites]


Rules is rules.

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:07 PM on January 25, 2011 [84 favorites]


Why am I not surprised in the slightest to see that this is a black woman who tried to get her kids out of a school district that is 42% white, 78.4% "economically disadvantaged," and in the 4rd percentile in state test scores and into a district that is 75% white, 5% asian, 11.1% economically disadvantaged, and in the 92nd percentile for state test scores?

That, Brockles, is why the profiling is relevant here: a black lady got thrown in jail in 2010 for 10 days because she snuck her kids out of one of the worst school districts in the state and into the white school district with good test scores.

There's a punishment or deterrent needed for some individuals all right, and it's not Kelly Williams-Bolar.
posted by zachlipton at 5:09 PM on January 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


I don't know how many people I know who've done this. Had their kids "live" with grandparents or aunts or exes in better districts. Not a one of them ever worried about any serious consequences of getting caught, and I never heard that there were any. Of course, they were all white people.

I don't think what she did is right, no. I don't think it should be a felony either. I think this post sums it up pretty well.

There is no accident in how borders are drawn and who is being kept out and removed from resources, not along lines of race, and not along lines of class — especially not in a country were so many borders were explicitly drawn with racist intent, during times of colonization, during times of slavery, during times of Jim Crow and less “official” forms of segregation, or even during modern times of “legals” and “illegals.” It’s a little too easy to write off as coincidence that the “wrong” school district was white in a country that has a very long and modern history, both official and unofficial, of keeping all non-white but especially black students out of white schools.

As Superintendent Poe explicitly states up above, this is about “our” tax dollars, and keeping them where they belong. And anytime we start talking about “us” and “them,” we need to look at what we mean by those words, because it rarely reflects well on our intentions and prejudices. William-Bolar crossed a border that was designed to keep her out. She “stole” resources that were apparently not her or her children’s to have.

posted by emjaybee at 5:09 PM on January 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


Nthing that I've seen (white) people get away with this and there was never any consideration of whether anyone involved would get a felony conviction out of it.
posted by immlass at 5:18 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rules is rules.

I'm not sure exactly what my own thoughts are on this issue. But I know this one of the most vile things I've ever read on MetaFilter.
posted by auto-correct at 5:19 PM on January 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


I am really surprised I have not yet seen any discussion of punishment vs. rehabilitation, re: sentencing. For all you folks talking pro-punishment, I have to ask what we, as a society, have to gain from ruining this woman's life and her chance to be a productive member of us. This is the same problem that we have with drug sentencing, as far as I'm concerned, replete with ugly racist overtones.
posted by mbatch at 5:20 PM on January 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


The only reason I'm anywhere near where I am today is that my aunt and uncle told me to move in with them. Instead of dropping out of a high school where, in my senior year, I was one of the 50% not on schedule to graduate on time, I graduated a year late from one of the best public high schools in the country. The only reason I had that opportunity? I had wealthy relatives. I didn't need to break the law, simply because I had access to wealth.

In my case, money made everything all right. In her case, a lack of wealth gets her 10 days in jail, a felony conviction that will prevent her from ever using the degree towards which she is working. I wasn't any more deserving than her children are escaping a failing school district. The system? It doesn't work. Property based funding of schools is a crock, and it's been one for a long time.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:24 PM on January 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


Ohhhhhh, I see - only rich white yuppies in manhattan should get away with this! Seems fair.
posted by tristeza at 5:29 PM on January 25, 2011


Money changes everything. Around here, people not only jockey legally to get their kids into the best schools in an otherwise exceptional, well-funded district, they do the same thing she did and tell the local paper. I'm firmly in the camp of those who think that this woman's career shouldn't have been wrecked before it started, mostly because people around me do this crap all the time with nary a care in the world.

Nope, there's nothing wrong with school funding.
posted by fireoyster at 5:30 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This woman got a 9.989 year reduction in her sentence. I'd say she got off pretty good.
posted by lampshade at 7:48 PM on January 25 [+] [!] Other [2/2]: «≡·


No, she got a 9.989-year reduction in the amount of time she has to serve in the big house. Apart from time served, a felony conviction is a life sentence.

That, for trying to sneak your kids into the kind of school they deserve. You know, the kind of school that everyone's kids deserve.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:30 PM on January 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Something something now, something something forever.

Oh hai, Mr. Wake County School Board Rep.
posted by NoMich at 5:31 PM on January 25, 2011


THIS is the one I've been trying to remember, about Martin Erzinger in Colorado from last November - A financial manager for wealthy clients [“dedicated to ultra high net worth individuals, their families and foundations”] will not face felony charges for a hit-and-run because it could jeopardize his job...
posted by XMLicious at 5:33 PM on January 25, 2011 [35 favorites]


campaign for change? move to the rich, white district? make the shitty schools better? seriously? these are solutions to some of you? it's like telling someone stuck in quicksand to petition the parks department for warning signs.

the rich mindset continues to be "fuck you , got mine."
posted by nadawi at 5:35 PM on January 25, 2011 [39 favorites]


Well, in fairness, Erzinger was a miscarriage of justice. I doubt anyone would have been upset if that guy was unable to work for the rest of his life.

I don't think the moral here is to let everyone off the hook for breaking the law.
posted by GuyZero at 5:36 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


>Rules is rules.

I'm not sure exactly what my own thoughts are on this issue. But I know this one of the most vile things I've ever read on MetaFilter.


My grandfather likes to say this exactly, and his intention is to make fun of people who obey rules simply to obey rules, rather than for some overarching reason. It's a succinct way to poke fun at this tendency in human nature. Perhaps the person here meant it similarly.
posted by odinsdream at 5:36 PM on January 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


What I see here is a moral dilemma - Break the law, or give your kid a bad education.

Setting aside the idea that there were other alternatives to breaking the law, I think the real outrage here should be on that dilemma. In the US parents face a moral dilemma - Break the law, or give your kid a bad education. How the hell do we vote in assholes that let this happen in America?
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:40 PM on January 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think working for change is the right, long-term, solution. In the short term, the right solution is -- well, I have no idea, but letting your kids go to one of the worst schools in the state doesn't seem like it.

It's hard to decide who the biggest loser in this story is -- Ms. Williams-Bolar, with a felony conviction; her kids, stuck in a shitty school; or the rest of the kids stuck in the same school, without parents who are even capable of fighting it.
posted by jeather at 5:40 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the US parents face a moral dilemma - Break the law, or give your kid a bad education. How the hell do we vote in assholes that let this happen in America?
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:40 PM on January 25 [+] [!] No other comments.


Bad education.

Well, you asked.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:41 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Isn't the difference between her and others the fact that she forged court documents?
posted by Carillon at 5:41 PM on January 25, 2011


I’ve teach in a district facing a very similar scenario as Copley and this sort of dishonesty with regard to residency is a tough nut to crack. It comes down to tax-payers supporting the re-distribution of a population.

I am not sure putting the mom in prison is humane, but I think that something has to be done about this problem.
posted by vkxmai at 5:42 PM on January 25, 2011


Indeed! I can't think of *any* logical reason why this woman, living in *public housing*, didn't just move to a better school district!

It's just like Katrina, all those people sticking around NoLa when they could have *driven to safety* any time they wanted!
posted by absalom at 5:44 PM on January 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


Isn't the difference between her and others the fact that she forged court documents?
posted by Carillon at 8:41 PM on January 25 [+] [!] No other comments.


I don't think "forged court documents" means she busted into the courthouse at night and cut-paste-photocopied stuff in the official records department. It means she gave the school a photocopy of an apartment lease or a light bill that did not belong to her.

The opportunity or burden for premeditation and/or reflection is much less, and focused more on your own burden of having to remember to pick up the school mail from (whoever's house), and responding timely to requests for information. You don't think about the burden on other taxpayers, because, hey, you pay taxes, and you're the one doing all the work to get your kids a good education. Good parenting means going above and beyond. No hamburger.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:48 PM on January 25, 2011


Years ago when my children were small we moved to a school district where our neighborhood school, in walking distance, was over 90 percent black. (This was in Pensacola, Florida.) Also within walking distance, albeit a few blocks more and over a small bayou bridge, was a school in the next district over, which was majority white. Guess how many families were lying in order to get their kids in that school? A bunch, considering there were a lot of white folks in my neighborhood.

My son went into a kindergarden class (midyear) with less than 15 students. Many days it was less than that. He had a fantastic year with outstanding teachers.

The following year the school became a magnet school for the arts, which for some reason made it acceptable for people to start telling the truth about where they lived again.

Most of the people I know of who have lied in this fashion have been white, fwiw. Draw your own conclusions.

While this lady did not do right by doing what she did, I think it is wrong in the extreme that she be done this way while a whole pile of paler people are getting away with it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:49 PM on January 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


Taking away her ability to earn a living is just so despicable. It's like the judge wants to make damn sure those children never get anywhere near that nice school again.
posted by orme at 5:50 PM on January 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


What I really don't get is why everybody is focusing on the 10 days in the slam as the punishment, when actually the jail time is a mere inconvenience compared to the punishment.

The punishment is being fucked forever in your social, professional and financial life as a felon, because in America, felonies are forever.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:51 PM on January 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just thought of something. She's in section 8 housing...this may very well cost her her home as well.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:52 PM on January 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


>>Rules is rules.

>I'm not sure exactly what my own thoughts are on this issue. But I know this one of the most vile things I've ever read on MetaFilter.

My grandfather likes to say this exactly, and his intention is to make fun of people who obey rules simply to obey rules


odinsdream's grandfather: 1 auto-correct: 0

FWIW this is rife in Perth. Not only is it rife, but it's open conversation. "My elderly mother lives in the catchment zone. I've had all her utility bills changed to my name. 2 more months and I "officially" live there and little Johnny can go to the good school."

I hear it all the time.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:52 PM on January 25, 2011


Taking away her ability to earn a living is just so despicable. It's like the judge wants to make damn sure those children never get anywhere near that nice school again.

The prosecutor brought felony charges and the jury convicted her on 2 of them. The judge doesn't get to decide whether it's a felony or not. That is defined by statute, not as part of the sentence.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This woman got a 9.989 year reduction in her sentence. I'd say she got off pretty good.

I don't have an analogous case that went to trial with a white, native English speaker as defendant to compare. Do you?

I can think of white, native English speakers who used family members' residences, where they were not actually living, as their legal address without consequence, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


The prosecutor brought felony charges and the jury convicted her on 2 of them. The judge doesn't get to decide whether it's a felony or not.

The judge could have vacated the (unjust) verdict.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:01 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And for all the "rule of law" and "she broke the law" folks in this thread - I'd agree if the law in the US was used the same for poor black people as it is for middle class white people. But it isn't. At all. Not even close.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:01 PM on January 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing it, but where in the article does it say that she forged court records? I'm not seeing it.
posted by facetious at 6:02 PM on January 25, 2011


This happened all the time in the school district I graduated from. There were four high schools in my district -- two were in affluent areas and had tons of awesome classes and clubs and after school activities. The other two schools were based in poorer/more urban areas (like right next to the airport) -- the high school I graduated from was one of the latter two schools. The year I was a senior, we had to fight with administration to have AP Chemistry included in the curriculum because the school district wouldn't pay for supplies for us. The science supplies budget per student per semester for my school? $1.35. We ended up getting the class approved, but the 20 or so of us who took the class had to pay for it. The two good high schools didn't have that limitation. My high school didn't even offer French until my sophomore year, and only started offering German a few years before that -- Spanish was the only foreign language offering, and the district required 3 years of foreign language to graduate. The two good high schools were offering all those languages plus Russian, Japanese, and Latin.

More than a few of my 8th grade classmates ended up going to one of the two good high schools when they lived well within the boundary lines for my high school. They claimed to be living with Dad instead of Mom, or living at Grandma and Grandpa's, but no one ever actually moved. And no one ever got sent to jail over it or even got in trouble. Of course, they were all white.
posted by palomar at 6:03 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is and has been very often the case in the US legal system that defendants who are white native speakers of English get significantly easier sentences, all else being equal, than defendants with other racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic self-identifications.

The question was about race, not "linguistic self-identifications."

Do you have a cite for the racial point?
posted by John Cohen at 6:07 PM on January 25, 2011


I think my parents did something like this to get me to a good middle school. My mom worked, but did not live in New York City, and got a coworker to claim me as a dependent so that I could attend school there. Sure, it's illegal, but apparently it was the kind of illegal that you can talk to your coworkers about and expect not to be ratted out.

But I'm really pale.

Anyway, despite the racist overtones, I'd probably be okay with this if it were not a felony, or if felonies didn't change your job prospects the way they do. It's not that she deserves punishment, it's that you need to have these trials and sentences in order to maintain the system; there needs to be a real risk involved in cheating, or the already rather tenuous infrastructure keeping schools funded falls apart. But I'm pretty sure you don't need to ruin someone's life for that purpose.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:09 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A judge can't just vacate a verdict because they dislike it. There needs to be some legal basis for the decision, like prosecutorial or juror misbehaviour. Otherwise judges could just as easily override acquittals. Her legal team will pursue either an appeal or a pardon.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:11 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do you have a cite for the racial point?

You want a "cite" for the American justice system treating black people worse than white people? Jesus Christ. That's a fucking invisible mobile home.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:14 PM on January 25, 2011 [33 favorites]


The question was about race, not "linguistic self-identifications."

Do you have a cite for the racial point?


John Cohen, I say "linguistic self-identification" because that's how "Hispanic" works as an identifier in US racial data-gathering--it's an overlay in addition to race.

Here's a pretty thorough review of a lot of recent studies on disparities in sentencing, and the indications are that race is both a direct and indirect factor, to the benefit of white non-Hispanic defendants.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:16 PM on January 25, 2011


"'Because of the felony conviction, you will not be allowed to get your teaching degree under Ohio law as it stands today. The court's taking into consideration that is also a punishment that you will have to serve.'' - Judge Patricia Cosgrove

You know, when people talk about obscenity, this is the kind of thing I invariably think of. You can curse at me all day long and show me titties and penis until the cows come home and I wouldn't bat an eyelid, but present me with a judge who thinks that this kind of punishment is fair and just and you'll have me screaming in moral outrage from the get-go.

This is the kind of behaviour and mind set that should be rated XXX as far as I'm concerned. The people who hasten to blame the victim in cases such as these should be forced to walk in their shoes for a while and then come on back and talk about how they have only themselves to blame.
posted by perilous at 6:17 PM on January 25, 2011 [24 favorites]


For what it's worth, the last high-profile school district residency case in my part of Ohio had the district putting private investigators out to tail the father and children in a (white) family wealthy enough to own a mansion in one district and rent an apartment in the target district.

I'm not a fan of the felony part, but I have no problem with ten days in jail, given the totality of the circumstances.
posted by SMPA at 6:22 PM on January 25, 2011


You want a "cite" for the American justice system treating black people worse than white people?

The good news is that there are lots of cites. The bad news is that there need to be any.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:23 PM on January 25, 2011


For what it's worth, the last high-profile school district residency case in my part of Ohio had the district putting private investigators out to tail the father and children in a (white) family wealthy enough to own a mansion in one district and rent an apartment in the target district.

Has that case gone to trial yet?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:25 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a school district which is 75% white, which students do you think get a thorough investigation of their residency records?
posted by ennui.bz at 6:25 PM on January 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Way to go, Ohio.
posted by maxwelton at 6:29 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Out of curiosity, I took a glance at the Ohio Revised Code. In my layman's understanding, the following appear to be misdemeanors (and presumably less serious):

Negligent homicide
Riot
Resisting arrest (if a deadly weapon is not used)
Soliciting improper compensation
Interfering with civil rights
Using weapons while intoxicated
Failure to secure dangerous ordnance

So, there's that. Also, here's a link to the Tampering with records section that she was presumably convicted under. Do we know what she actually did? The article says "falsified enrollment papers" but that could be anything from listing the wrong address to hacking into the school board computers.
posted by mhum at 6:49 PM on January 25, 2011


You want a "cite" for the American justice system treating black people worse than white people? Jesus Christ. That's a fucking invisible mobile home.

Scorn is not a cite.
posted by John Cohen at 6:50 PM on January 25, 2011


Nope, it sure ain't.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:52 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, it looks like the dad in that situation subscribes to the "the best defense is a good offense" school of thought.
posted by SMPA at 6:53 PM on January 25, 2011


I used to be a lawyer, and now one thing I do is talk to college students about proper citation formats.

This is a preface to my saying, for some things, scorn is more appropriate than citation.
posted by angrycat at 6:54 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's a pretty thorough review of a lot of recent studies on disparities in sentencing, and the indications are that race is both a direct and indirect factor, to the benefit of white non-Hispanic defendants.

It says this:
In a few jurisdictions, notably the federal system, minority defendants (especially blacks) are more likely to receive a death sentence.
Notice, "in a few jurisdictions." "A few" means "not most." People have tried very hard to show that blacks who have committed capital crimes are more likely to receive the death penalty, and they haven't generally shown this.
posted by John Cohen at 6:57 PM on January 25, 2011


Perilous, the judge's point is that the severe employment difficulties faced by someone with a felony conviction are the reason the sentence is only 10 days + parole. The judge has no control over either the felony nature of the charge or the verdict. Barring a successful appeal of the conviction and a new trial with a different outcome, the lady became a convicted felon the instant the jury returned its verdict, before the judge said a single thing.

Life punishment/exclusion for felony conviction is totally out of control in the US. I believe it is used not only to disenfranchise or exploit large numbers of people, but that it drives recidivism and leads to further crime by making reform an impossibility. But the only way to fix this is via the political process. The judge has no control over the matter and could not change this outcome without breaking the law again.

The determination of a felony, and the indirect punishment of felons outside of the penal system, are written into the law. Judges are not allowed to just set them aside.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:02 PM on January 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


As anigbrowl said above, I think one of the problems here is the blanket prohibition on convicted felons working in the school system and in countless other areas. Once someone has paid their debt to society through a prison term or other sentence, they shouldn't be punished for the rest of their life.

And obviously, as many others have said, the US desperately needs a more equitable way to fund public education.
posted by Umami Dearest at 7:08 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't the question on job applications, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" So even if they dismiss the conviction, she's still been convicted, right?
posted by crapmatic at 7:12 PM on January 25, 2011


This is totally the Soda Machine Effect. ("Pop" or "Coke" Machine where regionally appropriate. "Soda Pop Machine" is right out.)

In the wake of the OJ trial years ago, the writers at Newsweek were shocked -- shocked! -- that opinions about Mr. Simpson walking were split down racial lines. They asked their readers to submit their thoughts, and one black police officer from California wrote to offer his opinion about the disparity.

He told the editors the story of a soda machine in the break room where he worked. Some of the white police officers had found a way to get sodas from the machine without paying, and they would, the black officer wrote, sit around the break room laughing and bragging about how they were getting their sodas for free. The black officer stated that he tried to do the right thing and keep paying for the sodas.

But one day he said, "Screw it," and, in front of the white officers, he used their trick to get a free drink.

All of a sudden, he says, there was grumbling from on high about how the soda machine needed to be fixed.

And that, the officer said, is why so many black Americans were happy to see OJ walk: yeah, what he did was wrong by any measure, but he got a free soda.

Same thing here as some of you have noted. White people do this all the time; poor black woman does it? That goddamn soda machine needs to be fixed. This one comes with the added bonus of dropping extra punishment on the black perpetrator too, to send a message. Wonder who the targets of that message were? Hmmm.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:15 PM on January 25, 2011 [29 favorites]


I've been reading about this shit all day, and the more I read, the angrier I get. I swear, reading about this kind of rank injustice makes me want to side with the anarcholibertarians who want to abolish public education altogether, because at least their brand of assholery makes no bones about not giving a shit about poor people.

Yeah, she lied. I'd lie for my kids. So I guess I deserve jail, and to be stripped of my livelihood.

Jesus Fucking Christ.
posted by Leta at 7:22 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


lord_wolf: Do you have a cite on that? Not because I'm being a dick, but because I'd like to have it for future use. That's a pretty fantastic metaphor overall.
posted by absalom at 7:22 PM on January 25, 2011


Sidhedevil, another thing about that report (here's the correct link): it says that males receive higher sentences than females, and younger people receive higher sentences than older people. Would you leap to the conclusion that there's discrimination against males, or that there's discrimination against young people? I don't think so. Those are just possible explanations; they're not proven by those data.

Sidhedevil, you've suggested to me before (under my old username, Jaltcoh) that I "often" seem to suggest that men are more oppressed than women. I don't believe that men are more oppressed than women, but you might have been annoyed that I would even seem to suggest that. Fair enough. But can I assume that you would also be annoyed if I were to say that the criminal justice system is discriminatory against men? In fact, I don't think that report shows that the criminal justice system is discriminatory against men. It shows that men tend to receive higher sentences. There's a distinction. Young people may tend to receive higher sentences than older people, but that doesn't mean they're unfairly discriminated against. Correlation is not discrimination.

OK, so blacks may tend to receive tougher sentences than whites. (Actually, the study you link to hardly draws this as a firm conclusion. For instance, it says blacks don't receive tougher sentences than whites for violent crimes. But let's assume for the sake of argument that this is true.) It doesn't follow that a black person will get a tougher sentence than a white person, "all else being equal" (which is what you said). You would need to control for all relevant factors, and I don't know how you'd ever do that. I'm sure the studies cited in that report make an attempt to control for confounding factors (though it's hard to tell, since the report is written very broadly). The report claims there's a racial disparity even after seriousness of the crimes is taken into account. But I'd need to see a much more detailed breakdown of that factor than is offered in the PDF. You'd need to look not just at the level of crime charged, but the severity of the specific facts involved in each case. I don't know any way to scientifically study that.

I recommend reading the chapter on race in Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell (who, as a black person born in the US in 1930, has presumably seen some racial discrimination in his life). As Sowell explains, people tend to look at statistics on race, gender, etc. with an assumption that, in a fair world, different groups should get the same results. But as Sowell says, different groups normally get different results, because different groups are different. Men are different from women, so the fact that men get tougher sentences than women does not itself show that men are discriminated against in sentencing. I wouldn't be shocked if there was sexism against men in sentencing. But that's just one possible explanation. A gender correlation does not prove gender discrimination, and a racial correlation does not prove racial discrimination.
posted by John Cohen at 7:29 PM on January 25, 2011


As a sidenote, I find amusing the virulence of some people's response to asking for actual evidence of their claims that they thought would be taken on faith. If you believe what you're saying, shouldn't you want it to be subjected to empirical scrutiny?
posted by John Cohen at 7:32 PM on January 25, 2011


John Cohen:
Results: Eighty-five studies meeting our stated eligibility criteria were located. Analysis of these data reveal that, after taking into account defendant criminal history and current offense seriousness, African-Americans and Latinos were generally sentenced more harshly than whites. cite (.pdf)
Take a look at this map. Roll over Utah. Note that the ratio of blacks to whites in prison/jail is 9.2.:1. Blacks make up just over 1% of the state's population. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

In Ohio, the ratio is 6.4:1.
posted by rtha at 7:40 PM on January 25, 2011


So even if they dismiss the conviction, she's still been convicted, right?

It varies by state, and also with the kind of offense. In Ohio I think the rule is she can apply 3 years after she has served her 2-year parole, assuming she has had a clean record before and since. But I'm not a lawyer, and haven't looked up to see if this conviction would be allowable. Also, some jobs still require the applicant to reveal even a sealed conviction. Mostly government jobs which require a security clearance, law enforcement, or being licensed as a doctor or attorney. I don't know what requirements would apply for someone to hold a teaching license.

As it happens, Ohio is more lenient than most states in regard to felony voting; prohibitions only cover time actually in prison (cite). I think in this case it would be more effective to attack the policy that bars felons from acquiring a teaching credential than to attack the fact of the conviction. Unless there was some glaring irregularity about the trial, there's no point in blaming the court for the facts of the case that comes before it, or the fact that prosecutors have not seen fit to file charges in other cases.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:41 PM on January 25, 2011


absalom: look here, on the 2nd page: http://www.newsweek.com/1995/10/15/one-verdict-clashing-voices.html

My apologies, as I flubbed one of the facts (the officer was from NY, not CA) and gave a longer narrative than the original writer. Basic facts and structure of the story stand though.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:43 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know how many people I know who've done this. Had their kids "live" with grandparents or aunts or exes in better districts. Not a one of them ever worried about any serious consequences of getting caught, and I never heard that there were any. Of course, they were all white people.

Indeed. My best friend in high school was part of one of the very few if not only Chinese-American families living in an East Los Angeles housing project a literal stone's throw from the border of a city with a first-rate public school system. His grandparents lived there, but for years after the family moved out they used the address in order to keep the kids in the better schools. Eventually the school administrators more or less knew this was happening, but given that the kids by this time were, among other things, running the high school student council and the school newspaper, they never did get around to "investigating" before the whole family had moved on to college.
posted by Creosote at 7:54 PM on January 25, 2011


John Cohen, I do not think you ought to rely on Thomas Sowell alone. He's a smart guy, but in my view he also writes a lot of weak material than tells conservative readers what they want to hear (just as some liberal economists do).

Although there's no definitive answer, we can actually study the problem by looking at the use of sentencing guidelines across the US prison population. Introduced in 1984, they were designed to bring some consistency to a process which many observers felt was arbitrary and unjust. In recent years the mandatory element of the guidelines has been removed because it unconstitutionally limited the judicial branch, but the guidelines continue to serve as the first reference for calculating the length of a sentence and go into considerable detail. (wiki/the guidelines)

This paper, from the Journal of Law and Economics, examines some 77,000 sentences over a 15 year period and finds evidence of racial and socioeconomic bias after controlling for a variety of external variables. It's subject to interpretation, as is any study, but this is by far the the most widely cited paper on the subject, and the JLE has a reputation for intellectual rigor.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:10 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a sidenote, I find amusing the virulence of some people's response to asking for actual evidence of their claims that they thought would be taken on faith. If you believe what you're saying, shouldn't you want it to be subjected to empirical scrutiny?
posted by John Cohen


The annoyance is having to prove something that has been thoroughly proven and lived. Do you need to prove that planes can fly? Well lets say I've never seen a plane fly. Give me a detailed explanation of how this is possible, when for thousands of years it never was.

It's like no, if you want to hold some opinion that runs contrary to what most reasonable people typically believe, then you go into detail about how it just isn't so.

I spent years dealing with people like you, and no matter how much evidence you pile up before them, it is never ever enough. There's always some excuse.

You'll even go so far as to say "racism exists" won't you? But you'll turn around and deny every single instance of it that is pointed out.

All you do is waste the time of people who have better things to do. I fell into this trap time and time again, and wasted hour after hour after hour. I provided citations, links to articles, pdfs, I'd stay up until 2 and 3 in the morning on nights I had to drive an hour to work the next morning. I provided context, tried to be calm, tried to show emotion. It never works. You always just find some tiny loophole as to why that isn't enough evidence for you.

Please. Not going for it again.
posted by cashman at 8:11 PM on January 25, 2011 [18 favorites]


All of the anecdotes people are throwing out that aren't even anecdotes ("I've heard of..." or other urban-legend type postings) are rather frustrating. I'm quite MORE than willing to believe that race and class played a role in this woman and this case coming to trial and coming down this way, but what would convince me is knowing more about those other 30-40 cases mentioned in the linked articles. What were their demographics? When their "fraud" was discovered what did they do? The same thing as Ms. Williams-Bolar? Something else? Because that, and discussions of the systemic issues of local vs county vs state vs federal school funding would be very interesting.
I am reminded of the Beverly Hills School District that kicked out all of it's out-of-bounds students last year because the weird funding metrics meant they were now losing money (they used to make $) on each student. These families were almost all quite wealthy, but preferred cheaper LA city housing costs.
posted by atomicstone at 8:12 PM on January 25, 2011


This paper, from the Journal of Law and Economics, examines some 77,000 sentences over a 15 year period and finds evidence of racial and socioeconomic bias after controlling for a variety of external variables. It's subject to interpretation, as is any study, but this is by far the the most widely cited paper on the subject, and the JLE has a reputation for intellectual rigor.

Won't be enough. He'll find some kind of excuse to dismiss it. In his mind it just cannot be. This America that he was told was so great, so awesome, so fair (with few exceptions) just cannot be this way.

Watch.

posted by cashman at 8:13 PM on January 25, 2011


Note that the ratio of blacks to whites in prison/jail is 9.2.:1. Blacks make up just over 1% of the state's population.

Use Occam's Razor to describe why this is so.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:14 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, ps- i'm not trying at all to group myself in some sort of "I don't see color" camp. just that the whole argument is strengthened if we know something about those other families that were caught and NOT brought to trial.
posted by atomicstone at 8:15 PM on January 25, 2011


can we just once not give the entire narrative of a thread over to yet another person claiming the sky isn't blue?
posted by nadawi at 8:17 PM on January 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


The real issue is why in the world do we fund schools the way we do? Roughly half of a school's cost is provided by the federal government, and the other half by local property taxes. I know it's a pipe dream under the best of political climates, but when I'm in charge I'm going to fully fund public schools across the country with federal cash. Paying for it is easy, just re-route those local property taxes to the feds in a huge pool. Total up the cash, divide by the total number of students nationwide, get a per student average for the year. If the average is Z dollars, and your school has 1,000 students, that school gets Z x 1,000 dollars.

It's what other developed countries do, countries that, by the way, are kicking America's ass in education.
posted by zardoz at 8:19 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


cashman, this is a common trolling tactic. It's the reason Feminism 101 exists; people would show up and say "explain what you mean when you say women are discriminated against, to me, the wide-eyed innocent in these matters, and provide citations please" thereby derailing an otherwise productive discussion on a more advanced topic.

Dismiss them and they say AHA YOU CAN'T PROVE IT EXISTS and of course, they never, ever, go look at your links. Because they are not arguing in good faith.

Oh, hey, here's a racism 101 link. So cashman, feel free to link then move on. Or just ignore. It's not like there's no Google, or libraries, or history books out there.
posted by emjaybee at 8:24 PM on January 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


The full Journal of Law and Economics report anigbrowl alludes to is here in PDF.

It may be of surprise to some that the sentencing disparity reported between Blacks and Whites is in many ways dwarfed by the one between women and men. But even I'm not up to the (mulciberian) levels of axegrind needed to frame this as a just-so story about how the golightly Mrs. Williams-Bolars of this world get over on their hypothetical Misters.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:31 PM on January 25, 2011


Okay, I stepped away from the computer and smoked a cigarette, so now I'm not going to scream. Instead, I'm going to calmly state that the people in this thread who are saying "Sorry, lady-who-wants-her-children-to-have-the-advantages-rich-white-people-take-for-granted, but there are established ways of going about this" are missing the point in a breathtaking fashion. Really. Breathtaking.
posted by steambadger at 8:36 PM on January 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's what other developed countries do, countries that, by the way, are kicking America's ass in education.

And which are a lot smaller than the US. Look, I'm from Europe, I grew up witha publicly funded education, I think education is wonderful and you should be thrilled to pay taxes for it. Is there a European department of education that sets policy for the whole EU. Hell no there is not. Even once you got past the language problems there would be a lot of opposition to that. Countries with equally good education outcomes would fight not to have to adopt each others' standards.

The fact is that the US is big and culturally diverse, notwithstanding the fact that you can all access the same 75 TV channels and that English is the de facto national language. The system of splitting things up by state is superficially suboptimal, but politically sustainable. I am not at all convinced that it will be improved by either centralizing it or just pouring more money into it. Those are lazy 'magic wand' solutions. Although the US system needs drastic change, I think it behooves us all to focus on incremental improvement and equalization at the local level rather than self-indulgent fantasizing about the unattainable to signal our political affiliations.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:45 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Many white, english speaking citizens of the U.S. have to pay for the mistakes they have made - such as myself. I was slapped with a ticket for reckless driving 10 years ago and still have to explain it to every employer. This is as it should be. As long one doesn't lie about it everything tends to be cool. Our system punishes bullshitters and repeat offenders - let her prove that she is not such a person.
posted by rotifer at 9:03 PM on January 25, 2011


let her prove that she is not such a person.

Yes. Let her prove that she will never again make the mistake of trying to provide her children with a decent education.
posted by steambadger at 9:08 PM on January 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


As long one doesn't lie about it everything tends to be cool.

It helps if one is white, I'm guessing.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:09 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This mother is a special education aide, which means she is an angel in my book. What mother wouldn't want a better life for her children. Doubtlessly she makes about $12.00 per hour doing this, if she has been at it for 10 years or more. If she is new, she makes $8.50, maybe $9.00 per hour. Children, means she can't afford squat, certainly not moving.

This judge needs a new job. Perhaps she should be sentenced to be a special education aide, for a while. Putting a mother in jail for 10 days, over a matter like this, is medieval. Bertolt Brecht wrote plays about this stuff.
posted by Oyéah at 9:09 PM on January 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


>Rules is rules.

I'm not sure exactly what my own thoughts are on this issue. But I know this one of the most vile things I've ever read on MetaFilter.


Helloooo? auto-correct's favoriting fanclub. You can stop favoriting now. It's been covered. It was [fairly bloody obviously] tongue in cheek.

I had a bit of a laugh when I saw Pope "the left have a superior sense of humour" Guilty in amongst the fans.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:11 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was slapped with a ticket for reckless driving 10 years ago and still have to explain it to every employer. This is as it should be.

No it isn't. As long as you have abstained from the behavior for a reasonable period there is no economic benefit to you, your employer, or society in endless reconfession of it. It is a waste of everybody's valuable time. I pay taxes for other people to lie awake at night worrying about whether you present a danger to society and have no interest in being part of some endless rehabilitation narrative.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:11 PM on January 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think gracedissolved has the right thoughts. Growing up in northeast Ohio, most of the school options weren't that good; and I ended up open enrolling to the school in the next town as it was slightly better. I also agree that someone who wants to be a teacher should not be forging documents within a school system.

What I am shocked about is that open enrollment is not an option in the area. I thought this was much more commonly available; between open enrollment and the wonderful PSEO program I feel I got a reasonable high school education.

Of note, I'm attaching a link for the school district grading in Summit county. That is a link for assessments of the school systems in the area; from what I understand few schools in Ohio manage to complete every catagory. The county I grew up in seems to have improved, which is nice to hear.
posted by graxe at 9:12 PM on January 25, 2011


I am delighted, as ever, to see all my worst suspicions about people confirmed.
posted by jenlovesponies at 9:13 PM on January 25, 2011


Judge Cosgrove provides some clarification.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:20 PM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


It helps if one is white, I'm guessing.

Not enough for 42% of the residents of Akron, Ohio, I'm guessing.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:24 PM on January 25, 2011


Here is what the judge has to say about the sentencing. She sounds reasonable and intends to write a letter to help Williams-Bolar get her teaching license.

I'm thinking the school put some pressure on the prosecutor to make an example of Williams-Bolar, and I imagine her race was a factor. The fraud seems to be the registration forms, reduced lunch applications and other school forms rather than "court" documents.

They are also going after her father for grand theft, because of the unpaid tuition and the cost to bring this case to trial, which I hope they lose due to this publicity. I don't see any benefit to society for going after this guy, who actually DOES live in the district.

I don't like what Williams-Bolar did. Apparently the school system is really messed up where she lives and there are no shortage of people doing it who AREN'T being prosecuted, butl, "everybody is doing it," doesn't make it right. I think the 10 days in jail and the community service is a good sentence, if they can get that felony charge dismissed and let her go on to get her teaching license.

If you think she should have no sentence at all, I disagree, but then I also think they need to follow up with other people who are doing this, especially wealthy white families. I honestly think that's what it is going to take--someone wealthy, with some influence, being seriously inconvenienced--for the school system to get any better.
posted by misha at 9:26 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you think she should have no sentence at all, I disagree, but then I also think they need to follow up with other people who are doing this, especially wealthy white families.
Wealthy families don't have to do this. They can just buy houses in good school districts.
posted by craichead at 9:44 PM on January 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


gracedissolved: Sometimes things need to have real consequences.

Yes, except when they don't.

John Cohen: As a sidenote, I find amusing the virulence of some people's response to asking for actual evidence of their claims that they thought would be taken on faith. If you believe what you're saying, shouldn't you want it to be subjected to empirical scrutiny?

I find amusing your insistence that one particular tendentious writer's claims should be taken on faith as final proof for what you're arguing.
posted by blucevalo at 9:53 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paying for it is easy, just re-route those local property taxes to the feds in a huge pool. Total up the cash, divide by the total number of students nationwide, get a per student average for the year. If the average is Z dollars, and your school has 1,000 students, that school gets Z x 1,000 dollars.

My state does exactly this, though on the state level, not the Federal level.
Rather than having "good" schools and "bad" schools like most places, we have uniformly mediocre schools.
Whether or not this is an improvement is left as an exercise to the reader.
posted by madajb at 10:04 PM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


''I will do everything I can, as far as sending a letter, asking them not to consider it,'' the judge said.

Clearly the judge is serious about making sure that Williams-Bolar's professional career isn't derailed before she completes her degree. I mean, she's willing to go as far as writing a letter.

I guess it's a touch stronger than crossing her fingers and wishing really hard.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:19 PM on January 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


As long as you have abstained from the behavior for a reasonable period there is no economic benefit to you, your employer, or society in endless reconfession of it. It is a waste of everybody's valuable time. I pay taxes for other people to lie awake at night worrying about whether you present a danger to society and have no interest in being part of some endless rehabilitation narrative.

You are naive. Those of us entrusted with the well being of others (such as school teachers) are vetted, in part, by honesty. This is why employers in healthcare and law enforcement (among many others I'm not familiar with no doubt) rely upon extensive background checks - they don't care if you were convicted of a traffic violation, just that you didn't lie about it. I've also been subjected to a polygraph for work - those are partidularly enjoyable. So people waste a lot of valuable time and money on endless reconfessions. I'll use your argument if I ever change jobs.
posted by rotifer at 11:29 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to aim some of the venom here at the 12 jurors that unanimously decided to find her guilty after 4 hours of deliberation. If ever there was a case for jury nullification, this might be on that list.

It's hard for me to blame the judge here. Judges have to follow the law, and if a jury hands her a felony conviction, 10 days on a 10 year sentence (with a promise to expunge the sentence after 6 months probation, and a letter which is more significant than it seems) is about as generous as a judge can get.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:40 PM on January 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thinking about this, I think they should implement this into ALL professions. I would love it if bankers convicted of fraud were banned from working in the financial sector again.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:42 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes. Let her prove that she will never again make the mistake of trying to provide her children with a decent education.

...through fraud and deception at the expense of other students who are trying to get a decent education.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:44 AM on January 26, 2011


at the expense of other students

what
posted by Sys Rq at 12:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The more students there are in a school, the greater the student:teacher ratio. Thats how its at the expense of other the students in that school.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:00 AM on January 26, 2011


I just thought of something. She's in section 8 housing...this may very well cost her her home as well.

It's unlikely she'll lose housing over this. Just having a felony conviction isn't usually enough to be denied, it depends on the crime as well. Drugs and especially violence are the big no-nos. This case has already stirred the middle/lower class pot way too much.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:01 AM on January 26, 2011


Too harsh. I've lived in tony neighborhoods where parents in other, adjoining tony neighborhoods tried all kinds of deceptive practices to get into our public schools (which were/are near the top in America). Nothing happened to them, except that they had to remove their kids if they got caught. This person, of course, pays a harsh penalty because she is poor. Pathetic! I wish her well. There is no way on god's good earth that someone should be criminalized for doing something like this. Justice has been stabbed in the heart in this case!
posted by Vibrissae at 2:37 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


...through fraud and deception at the expense of other students who are trying to get a decent education.

I have no tears for well-off students having to make some room for less well-off students.

60% of adults in Philly have a sixth grade reading level or less. Things like this are massively unjust, Somebody needs to pay for this inequality, and I'm totally on board with comparatively well-off kids chipping in a biyt.
posted by angrycat at 3:35 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


That, Brockles, is why the profiling is relevant here: a black lady got thrown in jail in 2010 for 10 days because she snuck her kids out of one of the worst school districts in the state and into the white school district with good test scores.
Please, let's not also leave out the worst irony:

Her punishment for illegally sneaking her children out of a bad school is that she is not allowed to become a teacher.

I guess not only are the disadvantaged supposed to go to bad schools, but that schools for the disadvantaged are supposed to be bad.
posted by cotterpin at 3:57 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rather than having "good" schools and "bad" schools like most places, we have uniformly mediocre schools. Whether or not this is an improvement is left as an exercise to the reader.

It is obviously better to equalize them. You should never have one kid getting a great state education because another kid got a shit state education in the same state. If the average funding per student turns out to be insufficient, this is the only way that problem is going to have even a chance of being publicized and fixed.
posted by pracowity at 4:10 AM on January 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


In my area, the school districts are pretty similar in educational quality. But there are people here who game the residency rules just to get their kid on the winning football team.
posted by tommyD at 4:10 AM on January 26, 2011


The judge sounds like a decent person and now I feel bad for lashing out at her.
posted by orme at 4:36 AM on January 26, 2011


You want a "cite" for the American justice system treating black people worse than white people? Jesus Christ. That's a fucking invisible mobile home.

John Cohen was asking a legitimate question - he wanted to know where he could find a citation. Can we not belittle people for trying to learn, or would you rather everyone stays ignorant?

The annoyance is having to prove something that has been thoroughly proven and lived. Do you need to prove that planes can fly? Well lets say I've never seen a plane fly. Give me a detailed explanation of how this is possible, when for thousands of years it never was.

Fuck this attitude. If you actually have a citation then provide one. If you've had a bad experience providing cites, don't take it out on whoever is asking for one - admit that you don't feel like finding one. But spare us this patronizing "uh do we seriously even HAVE to prove this, you really DON'T know this??", it's stupid and completely discouraging. Eye-rolling, elitist bullshit.
posted by windbox at 5:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why don't these poor people know their place? It's outrageous that she wanted her children to have a better education in a better funded district. We have a caste system for a reason, so that the wealthy can enjoy the privileges and advantages of their station and have someone to look down on.
posted by gallois at 7:51 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fuck this attitude. If you actually have a citation then provide one.

Do you have a citation for the need to provide citations?
posted by mek at 8:03 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


mek: "Fuck this attitude. If you actually have a citation then provide one.

Do you have a citation for the need to provide citations
"

The people responsible for citing those previously cited, have been cited.

But back to topic: This is an absurd penalty, for a "crime" which is pervasive when schools have such dramatic inequities. This school year, we moved out of the district where we've paid taxes for 10 years...just barely...we're one street out of the district now. My realtor and I misread the survey as to which district the new house was in. An unfortunate mistake, as the school district we're in is significantly worse than the one where Boy goes to school now. The administrators "know" that we've moved, but there is no official record of our address change, so Boy can stay where he is until I figure out where he's going to go next year. We don't even have the option of out of district tuition. And no secular private schools under $20k a year.

Point being; I totally understand *why* she did it. If I had a family member who lived in that district, I would absolutely use their address.
posted by dejah420 at 8:33 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Do you have a citation for the need to provide citations?
posted by ostranenie at 8:34 AM on January 26, 2011


Fuck this attitude. If you actually have a citation then provide one.

You know, in years of hanging around in contentious threads, I've found that an easy way to avoid fighty behavior - either engaging in it myself, or provoking it in someone else - is to google shit my own self. If someone makes an assertion about something that sounds wrong to me, or that I don't know much about, I google it. I skim links, I click, I read. If I have specific questions I might come back to the thread and ask the person who made the assertion. If, in googling, I find stuff that refutes their assertion, I might (okay, know me, will very likely) come back and point that out.

I favorited mr_roboto's comment in part because the "invisible mobile home" thing made me laugh and in part because I agree with it and in part because John Cohen is pretty smart and pretty well-read and his "Disparities? What disparities?" tone sounded awfully disingenuous coming from someone I know hasn't been living under a rock.
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd like to aim some of the venom here at the 12 jurors that unanimously decided to find her guilty after 4 hours of deliberation. If ever there was a case for jury nullification, this might be on that list.

I'm somewhat sympathetic to the woman's circumstances, but the above is simply stupid. Those 12 citizens fulfilled their civic duty, heard the facts of the case - which, despite the sturm and drang being slung in here are really rather simple - and determined that the defendant had, indeed, broken the law. That's it. They played their parts, and reached an honest conclusion, based on the facts presented. It's not up to them to debate the VALIDITY of the law's terms; their only option was, "Did she break the law as written, or not?" They deserve our thanks for actually showing up and serving, not our misplaced righteous anger.

And another thing... My reading of the sentence seems to be a little different from the majority here. The JUDGE didn't "decide" this was a felony; the statute did that. The judge imposed a token 10 day incarceration and parole. That hardly seems onerous. The fact that her future employment is at stake has nothing to do with the judge, and everything to do with the defendant, who consciously decided to commit the felony. Her motives, and our feelings, are immaterial. I'm sympathetic to here desire to better educate her children, but she gambled; she crapped out.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:44 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have taught as a substitute teacher in Seattle for several years now. I'm good at my job, and I care about it. I am not that sub who hides behind a newspaper and pretends not to see anything. Consequently, I get around to a lot of different schools.

Some of the schools here are awesome. Others are environments bad enough to make your jaw drop. In those schools, the MOST heartbreaking thing is to see the handful of students who actually want to learn. They get their work done at lightning speed in comparison to their classmates, then have to sit quietly through the tantrums and explosions going on all around them that take up all of a teacher's time. They could be learning and growing as individuals, but instead they're learning to hate school and society because they're surrounded by kids who need very, very different sorts of attention.

Perhaps Williams-Bolar's kids are academically average. Maybe below average. Maybe brilliant. Maybe they're highly motivated, maybe they're not. I don't know. But I do know that if I were a parent and I actually cared about my kid, I would be pretty picky about what school my kid went to. My theoretical child's future and safety would be worth risking a felony conviction if it meant sending him or her to someplace decent as opposed to a hellhole.

This sentence is horrifying. Should the family be allowed to get away with this? Golly, I guess not, since we've got rules for this. But jail time and a felony conviction? Seriously? Does anyone *really* think that race isn't a factor here?

I have to wonder if the judge or the jurors saw the school that Williams-Bolar's kids were originally supposed to go to. I'm betting that this wasn't done because her kids didn't care for that school's colors or mascot.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


And that, the officer said, is why so many black Americans were happy to see OJ walk: yeah, what he did was wrong by any measure, but he got a free soda. murdered wife.

Fuck this attitude. If you actually have a citation then provide one. If you've had a bad experience providing cites, don't take it out on whoever is asking for one - admit that you don't feel like finding one. But spare us this patronizing "uh do we seriously even HAVE to prove this, you really DON'T know this??", it's stupid and completely discouraging. Eye-rolling, elitist bullshit.

Nope, after a while, you get sick of dealing with people who constantly repeat "I don't BELIEVE fire is hot. PROVE IT!" Because no matter how many times you actually demonstrate, via citation, deduction, open evidence, etc., people with your response still don't feel like believing it, because it is contrary to their personal feelings of truthiness. And THAT is the attitude that should be fucked.

Also note, the cites were in fact pretty thoroughly posted upthread, and you're still pissing on about it. QED.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fuck this attitude. If you actually have a citation then provide one.

I don't have time for ad hominems, but imagine I start off with scathing insults to anyone asking for for citations of racism and unable to find any on their own. All of these citations will be only to peer-reviewed journal articles from the past 5 years:

Love, B. L., & Tosolt, B. (2010). REALITY OR RHETORIC? BARACK OBAMA AND POST-RACIAL AMERICA. Race, Gender & Class, 17(3/4), 19-37.

Merritt, D. (2010). Piercing the Brilliant Veil: Two Stories of American Racism. Indiana Law Journal, 85(4), 1255-1259.

Gillborn, D. (2005). Education policy as an act of white supremacy: whiteness, critical race theory and education reform. Journal of Education Policy, 20(4), 485-505. doi:10.1080/02680930500132346

Randall, V. R. (2006). THE MISUSE OF THE LSAT: DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BLACKS AND OTHER MINORITIES IN LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS. St. John's Law Review, 80(1), 107-151.

Holley, L. C., & van Vleet, R. K. (2006). Racism and Classism in the Youth Justice System: Perspectives of Youth and Staff. Journal of Poverty, 10(1), 45-67. doi:10.1300/J134v10n01-03

Miller, J., & Garran, A. (2007). The Web of Institutional Racism. Smith College Studies in Social Work (Haworth), 77(1), 33-67. doi:10.1300/J497v77n01-03

Dotterer, A. M., McHale, S. M., & Crouter, A. C. (2009). Sociocultural Factors and School Engagement Among African American Youth: The Roles of Racial Discrimination, Racial Socialization, and Ethnic Identity. Applied Developmental Science, 13(2), 61-73. doi:10.1080/10888690902801442\

Lübken, U. (2010). Governing Floods and Riots: Insurance, Risk, and Racism in the Postwar United States. Historical Social Research, 35(4), 275-288.

Hooks, G., & McQueen, B. (2010). American Exceptionalism Revisited: The Military-Industrial Complex, Racial Tension, and the Underdeveloped Welfare State. American Sociological Review, 75(2), 185-204. doi:10.1177/0003122410363566

Jaehee, Y. (2010). The Politics of Exclusion: The Failure of Race-Neutral Policies in Urban America. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 37(2), 189-191

Kurtz, H. E. (2009). Acknowledging the Racial State: An Agenda for Environmental Justice Research. Antipode, 41(4), 684-704. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2009.00694.x

Freiburger, T., Marcum, C., & Pierce, M. (2010). The Impact of Race on the Pretrial Decision. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 35(1/2), 76-86. doi:10.1007/s12103-009-9069-z

Keenan, H. T., Nocera, M., & Runyan, D. K. (2008). Race Matters in the Prosecution of Perpetrators of Inflicted Traumatic Brain Injury. Pediatrics, 121(6), 1174-1180. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-1846

Lurigio, A. J., & Loose, P. (2008). The Disproportionate Incarceration of African Americans for Drug Offenses: The National and Illinois Perspective. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 6(3), 223-247. doi:10.1080/15377930802243445

Phillips, S. (2009). Status Disparities in the Capital of Capital Punishment. Law & Society Review, 43(4), 807-838. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5893.2009.00389.x

King, R. D., Johnson, K. R., & McGeever, K. (2010). Demography of the Legal Profession and Racial Disparities in Sentencing. Law & Society Review, 44(1), 1-32. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5893.2010.00394.x

Amsterdam, A. G. (2007). OPENING REMARKS: RACE AND THE DEATH PENALTY BEFORE AND AFTER MCCLESKEY. Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 39(1), 34-58.

King, R. (2006). Jim Crow Is Alive and Well in the 21st Century: Felony Disenfranchisement and the Continuing Struggle to Silence the African-American Voice. Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture & Society, 8(2), 7-21. doi:10.1080/10999940600680507

Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

In conclusion, you can find citations and evidence that, yes, racism exists and race influences the way people are treated by various systems. If you continue to object to empirically proven assertions I will also assume that you are just a racism apologist and no amount of citations will get you to recognize that racism exists.

"uh do we seriously even HAVE to prove this, you really DON'T know this??", it's stupid and completely discouraging.

You are contributing to the perpetuation of racism.
posted by fuq at 9:08 AM on January 26, 2011 [24 favorites]


The hamster wheel has been spinning really hard. I think this teacher was in a shitty situation, and she has kids she wants to do good by. But this was definitely not the way. She basically put her kids ahead of all the other students at the poorer school.

Thats being a parent...but NOT a good teacher. Definitely not someone who i would want teaching at a public school.

Also, for whoever wanted a cite about intitutional racism within primary and secondary schools, please read jonathon kozol's 'savage inequalities'. Its heartbreaking.

But yeah...this teacher was wrong. All she did was engage in fraud that put her own kids ahead of the kids she is entrusted in teaching. Fuck that. She has a larger obligation to the schools which she obviously doesnt understand.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:35 AM on January 26, 2011


If only she had a choice as to which school to send her child.
posted by gyc at 9:42 AM on January 26, 2011


If only she had a choice as to which school to send her child.

Open-enrollment districts are no panacea. You can't guarantee that your kid will go anywhere in particular - they may end up in a school across town, which is a problem if you're a single mother who needs to get to work. The best school in the district may be next to your house but nope, you kid can't go there. And there will always be a worst school in every system that's full of somebody's kids.
posted by GuyZero at 10:13 AM on January 26, 2011




Well she should move to a place with closer schools and better support for special ed teachers,.


I'm from Akron, too, and given what I know about where she was living and where she was trying to send her kids--the differences are so vast and the housing stock so different that I just don't see how she could have done it. The C-F schools are actually CONSIDERABLY better than the APS schools. I guess I just think--in a culture where we as a society argue that "the poor" should be solving "their own" problems without providing many viable solutions? I don't blame her, and I can see how one might feel damned if one does and if one doesn't.
posted by liketitanic at 10:18 AM on January 26, 2011


You are contributing to the perpetuation of racism.

No, the people who are contributing to the perpetuation of racism are the ones who roll their eyes at people asking for more information about racial issues. I'm already aware of the racial injustices that exist in the US legal system, but when someone who believes otherwise (whether because they're uninformed, a contrarian troll, or both) asks to see more facts I don't see what good comes from belittling them for being a privileged, ignorant idiot (and everyone piling on favorites for it).

A favorite quote from Carl Sagan: "There is no such thing as a stupid question. Many people say that, but it really is true. Every question, no matter how ill-formed or ignorant of knowledge, is a request for knowledge, a request for information. It is an effort to understand better."
posted by windbox at 10:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Governor John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, Oh 43215-6108

Phone: (614) 466-3555

A gubernatorial pardon would remedy the felony record issue. There are parole board hoops that would have to be jumped through first, but I trust that the governor's office would work that out if they were sufficiently motivated.
posted by Phlogiston at 11:29 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"There is no such thing as a stupid question. Many people say that, but it really is true. Every question, no matter how ill-formed or ignorant of knowledge, is a request for knowledge, a request for information. It is an effort to understand better."

You'd be hard pressed to find someone who loves Sagan more than I, but sadly this is just not true. There are many questions which are designed specifically to sow dissent, to cast aspersions, to demonstrate that there are people who willfully decry knowledge no matter how often it is offered to them. "Teach the Controversy" isn't about two sides asking questions, it's about DESTROYING KNOWLEDGE. "There's questions about the veracity of global climate change science" isn't about finding out more accurate models and data, it's about DISCREDITING SCIENCE. "Show me citations that racism exists" isn't about learning about justice, it's about MAINTAINING IGNORANCE AND HATE.

These questions are not asked into the void. They are calculated efforts to frame the debate. "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
posted by FatherDagon at 12:22 PM on January 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


Copley-Fairlawn's definitely got better schools, but one could also say that about C-F in relation to an awful lot of districts around here that're more white than the APS. It's a money thing in a lot of ways. And I don't fault anybody for wanting to go to better schools, but also in fairness, coming out of the APS, just my tiny little social group now sports two people working on PhDs, one going to law school and one with a graduate degree in foreign language translation. This is not an issue of "your kid can't learn to read in the Akron Schools".

There are open enrollment options. You can open enroll into other schools in Akron, and I'm almost positive there are other local areas you can open enroll into. Copley-Fairlawn just isn't one of them. Wanting your kids to go to the best schools in the area is not a failing, but if you don't live there, you don't live there. I wish I'd gone to a high school that offered more than just French and Spanish. But you know what? It is quite possible to get through this school system something other than illiterate.

Most of our families did not respond to the disadvantage in our school systems by committing fraud to try to get us into other school systems. Just the same way most poor people do not shoplift to make up the difference and while I think that poverty should be fixed, I also think that it's not unreasonable for people who steal to go to jail, even if they happened to be poor at the time. And people who have committed more major crimes should not be teachers. None of them. If I rob a bank because I'm poor and I want to send my kids to college, it doesn't matter, it was a crime and I deserve punishment for it. To say this does not diminish the problems of poverty.

There are real problems here. The plight of a woman who knowingly committed fraud in order to give her children advantages that other children of law-abiding mothers didn't get is not among them.
posted by gracedissolved at 1:16 PM on January 26, 2011


There are real problems here. The plight of a woman who knowingly committed fraud in order to give her children advantages that other children of law-abiding mothers didn't get is not among them.

However, the plight of a (poor, black) woman who received a vastly disproportionate penalty for the same transgression many other (rich, white) people have committed IS among them, especially when the judge of the case specifically said he was doing it to make an example out of her - "I felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school systems". This is like saying "I feel no pity for the person who had their hand cut off, if it was so precious to them obviously they shouldn't steal bread."
posted by FatherDagon at 1:25 PM on January 26, 2011


I can't stop thinking about this.

I think the school that busted the teacher should do a FULL AUDIT on all the kids. Any parent to have fraudulently put their kid into that school should get busted BIG TIME.

HUGE penalties payable to the school they avoided. That way...maybe some good can be done.

It sucks being poor...and it sucks having everything stacked against you for whatever reason. It sucks that the system is broke. But the way to counter that isn't to say "i gots to get mine though...fuck all the other kids".

That's just unacceptable. Once that's done, one cannot say they are part of a people who have the odds stacked against them; in fact they are the people who are stacking more odds against the people who did not do what they did.

Fuck that, and I hope she never teaches again.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2011


That's right, you STAY in that burning house! The faucets still work, put it out your damn selves!
posted by FatherDagon at 1:50 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wait, I'm confused, is forging official documents tantamount to outright fraud, punishable by a permanent, lifetime ban on working as a grade level teacher, or a noble act of self-sacrifice to provide impoverished at-risk youths with a better chance at life?
posted by gagglezoomer at 3:04 PM on January 26, 2011


FatherDagon, if you're starving? By all means, steal bread. I'm totally okay with that. If you've got plenty to eat despite generally being poor and you decide to steal bread because you want the loaf from the designer bakery instead of the bread you've got? There, it stops being a need. It starts being a want. I am not okay with you breaking the law to get your wants. If everybody does that, that's anarchy.

The rich white people shouldn't be doing it either. But the rich white people *don't* do it, around here. Occasionally poor white people also do it. But the rich white people already live in Fairlawn. They don't live in Joy Park or whatever. They have choices, and it's sad that poor people don't have quite as many choices, but when is that not true? I didn't have the choice to go away to a private college. It might have been nice. I cope. I didn't feel the need to forge paperwork to get the loans I would have needed to do that. The amount of privilege that goes to the wealthy is something I disapprove of all round, but that doesn't mean we should just stop enforcing laws against the poor until it all gets fixed.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:25 PM on January 26, 2011


laws against the poor
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, the plight of a (poor, black) woman who received a vastly disproportionate penalty for the same transgression many other (rich, white) people have committed IS among them, especially when the judge of the case specifically said he was doing it to make an example out of her - "I felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school systems". This is like saying "I feel no pity for the person who had their hand cut off, if it was so precious to them obviously they shouldn't steal bread."

The judge was female.

She said SOME punishment should be given to a person who defrauded the system. Not only did She NOT give a vastly disproportionate penalty, she reduced the sentence all the way down to 10 days in jail instead of years because she felt some sympathy for the Mom. She basically gave her a slap on the wrist and will work to get the felony overturned.

But I guess neither of those facts fit into your little tirade. Whuch, by the way, seems to be against the judge and jury and that just doesn't make sense.

Hate the LAW that was broken. Hate the prosecutor, for bringing a black woman to trial instead of the apparently scores of whites that are doing the same thing, if you must. Although some here have called that into question and said whites are not doing this because, basically they don't have to. Again, that is a problem with the system and the zoning, so hate them.

Judges and juries, once presented with the facts, can only base their conclusions on the evidence, not how they feel. And the judge was as compassionate as the statutes allowed her to be. Get down off your high horse and start getting acquainted with the facts instead of ranting.
posted by misha at 5:00 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hate the prosecutor, for bringing a black woman to trial

Yeah, according to this article, the county prosecutor's office were the ones who refused to reduce the charge. The judge actually sounds pretty right on, it's a shame she's become the target of the public outcry over this.
posted by drinkyclown at 5:44 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, I'm confused, is forging official documents tantamount to outright fraud, punishable by a permanent, lifetime ban on working as a grade level teacher, or a noble act of self-sacrifice to provide impoverished at-risk youths with a better chance at life?

Forging official documents IS outright fraud.

I don't see any self-sacrifice there. Putting your kids ahead of all the other kids even though you're a teacher is the opposite of self-sacrifice.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:45 PM on January 26, 2011


It wasn't until this thread that I could really see how much some people fetishize the rules even when faced with the fact that some rules are patently unjust.

This woman didn't break into a government office to fabricate documents so her kids could go to a school where they serve caviar in the cafeteria. She wasn't climbing a fence to swim in her neighbor's swimming pool. We have drawn lines across our cities. On one side of the line the children in schools use textbooks with maps of the USSR and graduate from the 12th grade functionally illiterate if they aren't shot on the way there first. On the other side of the line, which is within plain sight, gun violence is rare and the fundamental tools of a basic education are present. We're not even talking about better SAT scores here, we're talking about the ability to read and write.

So my question for those of you who believe that this woman deserves to be convicted of a felony: what color bandanna do y'all wear and which pocket do you keep it in?
posted by Mz Martini at 6:20 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


because you want the loaf from the designer bakery

Sorry, but that's willfully obtuse. Given the employment situation today, nearly any job that will pay a living wage requires a university degree. At many, many underfunded schools, it's a battle just trying to get students to actually graduate, let alone prepare them for high school.

The first high school I attended ($4000 per year per student), with the 50% not on schedule to graduate, had two tracks: college prep and non-college prep. Lit for college bound kids, and basic grammar and writing for everyone else. AP courses were few and far between. The two counselors (for 2,200 students) had to spend more of their time trying to help students with difficult living situations than helping kids prep for college.

The second school ($13,000 per year per student) had roughly four tracks per subject, the lowest of which was still a college prep course. There were AP courses for every subject, and there were nearly twice as many subjects offered as my first high school. There were five counselors (for 1,600 students) whose primary duty was getting students into college. The school had two full-time teachers specializing in learning disabilities, and a separate room set aside for students to go to for help. 98% of my graduating class went to college. 98%!

This woman wasn't trying to steal fancy bread, she was trying to at least give her kids the opportunity to get a decent education, without which, their options in life would be ridiculously limited.

As mentioned, maybe I shouldn't be pissed at the judge (though, seriously, a letter?), but the prosecutors. And I am. I'd like to see all of the other parents they plan on prosecuting for this, because I doubt this is the only case, and I would imagine there are some non-minority parents out there, 'stealing from the rich' too.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:42 PM on January 26, 2011


I think the sentence is to harsh and unjust. She should be punished, but not ruining her life for trying to better her children. There's to many kids out there who will never get the chance for a better education, all because of where they live or what they can/can't afford, that's not fair.

Education should be a right we are all entitled to and not forced to lie/cheat/steal to get.

Copley has been working for years to rid the district of every outside student who has not been accepted (they must meet certain academic and behavior standards) and is not paying tuition. I wrote about the crusade back in March of 2008, when I reported that the district was offering $100 rewards to anyone blowing the whistle on an illegal outsider.

This is exactly what a school district in my state does every year. They try their hardest to get enough votes to redraw the school district lines. Their goal? To get kids who live in a very low income area out of their fancy white district. They want them to integrate into the town's main school district (which is not even to par with the rural district) and out of theirs. That to me, is disgusting and unfair.

So, yes she should be punished, because she did break the law. But it didn't have to be so harsh.
posted by Sweetmag at 7:15 PM on January 26, 2011


"One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." -MLK, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Our schools are sad remnants of the pre-civil rights era.

Who here is willing to argue for the jailing of Rosa Parks?
posted by Leta at 7:37 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm biased, because my mother pulled every trick in the book to make sure I got the best education was possible. Including what this woman did and more. A single black woman with two kids in a one bedroom apartment in shitty neighborhood, and she let none of those circumstances stand in her way. As a result, I can honestly say that I am in possession of one of the best damn educations money can buy in this country.

When my mom was done she took everything she learned educating us kids , and started a non-profit teaching other parents how to do whatever they had to to educate their children. And then she got a master's degree in education. And then she got herself elected to the State legislature. And now she's retired, and still goes out every day and does something to try and give kids who don't have a shot a better education.

And I know, threat of jail be damned, she's do it all again. Because the system is broken and unjust, and she loved her kids to much to let that system have it's way with us.

To everyone who says "don't break the rules" or "she shouldn't put her kids first" Believe that all you want, but that's not how the world gets better.. As far as I'm concerned what this woman did was civil disobedience. This is sitting at a lunch counter and demanding to be served. She is a Hero in my eyes, and I hope she serves her time with her head held high. I hope she wears that felony conviction like a badge of honor for the rest of her life.

I hope this is a wakeup call to all the other parents who are not privileged enough to take their children's education for granted. The system in this country is broken. It is unjust, and it is not going to get better anytime soon. You are on your own. Do what you have to.

Now I'm going to call my lawbreaking mom and tell her how much I love her.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:39 PM on January 26, 2011 [21 favorites]


A freshman state rep posted this to his Twitter feed earlier:

@CT94Dem
If my mom did not do this very thing - lie so I could go to a better school - I would not be who I am right now: http://ow.ly/3KXmn
4 hours ago

I thought that was brave. I'm expecting great things of him.
posted by hippugeek at 9:51 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given the employment situation today, nearly any job that will pay a living wage requires a university degree.

Why are you making shit up? Only about 40% of Americans have college degrees. Are you saying that 60% of America doesn't get paid a living wage?
posted by hal_c_on at 5:20 AM on January 27, 2011


you know, hal_c_on, you're right, and I guess I haven't done my research on that. Thanks for pointing it out to me. I didn't have research or numbers, just what's been hammered into my head since I was a kid, namely that if I didn't graduate from college, I'd never be able to get ahead in life. I doubt I'm the only one who was told that, either, or the only one who believed it.

But seriously, and without qualification, it wasn't my intent to make shit up, and I wasn't aware of the actual stats.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:07 AM on January 27, 2011


I'm pretty sure there's some spectacular overlap between the 60% of the population who doesn't have a higher education, and the bottom 60% of the population that only controls 4% of the nation's worth between them - the bottom 40%, 2/3rds of that population, only controlling .2% total. In fact, here's a handy chart that shows just how disparate the various average incomes are for various educational levels. Take heart - turns out you weren't making shit up, Ghidorah, you were just lacking the handy data to back up your point when contrarians decided to berate you!
posted by FatherDagon at 6:29 AM on January 27, 2011


A gubernatorial pardon would remedy the felony record issue.

[falls on floor, laughing]

Have you heard ANYTHING at all about our new governor? I suggest local political site Plunderbund as a starting point. Gah, ask Kasich for a pardon and he'd probably make sure she got the chair.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:56 AM on January 27, 2011


billyfleetwood: Now I'm going to call my lawbreaking mom and tell her how much I love her.

Hey, tell her how much I love her too. She sounds pretty awesome.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:30 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


a degree significantly helps your chances - but i'd like to just give a shout out to me and all my high school drop out friends who have managed to claw ourselves to the 40-70k/year brackets. i do know some who make 100k+ a year, but it's certainly not the norm.

of course, i went to a very good high school where i got to take classes like philosophy and sociology and AP courses. i was an honors student when i dropped out.

as an aside - i went to school in one of those states where supposedly everything is evened out - while i was learning about socrates in the 11th grade, the students in schools less than 30 miles away weren't given text books to take home because the school could only afford enough to stock the classroom. we had multiple, huge, cutting edge computer labs and they weren't given the budget to buy pencils. and still the kids i went to school with complained loudly that the poor kids were stealing their daddy's money because all the tax money didn't go to our school.
posted by nadawi at 11:07 AM on January 27, 2011


But seriously, and without qualification, it wasn't my intent to make shit up, and I wasn't aware of the actual stats.

I think its pretty cool that you said the above. Even better than if you would have had the stats right initially. I wish more people were like you. Stay awesome.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:27 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure there's some spectacular overlap between the 60% of the population who doesn't have a higher education, and the bottom 60% of the population that only controls 4% of the nation's worth between them - the bottom 40%, 2/3rds of that population, only controlling .2% total.

The stats you provided are totally verifiable, and generally accepted. The correlation you are trying to make isn't generally accepted and being "pretty sure" isn't any kind of valid verification.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:31 PM on January 27, 2011


Luckily, I provided a followup link in that very post, that precisely illustrated that vast disparity in wealth control for the majority of the population rather neatly dovetails with the projected incomes for various educational levels - the 'handy chart'. The earlier in life your education stops, the lower your average projected income. Anecdotal outliers are always present, but they don't speak for the majority norm.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:24 AM on January 31, 2011


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