Great news in Ohio
Kelley Williams-Bolar, a single mother jailed for sending her children to school in the wrong school district, received clemency from Ohio Gov. John Kasich today and will no longer be a convicted felon; Williams-Bolar was backed by more than 184,000 using Change.org.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Gov. John Kasich today reduced the charges against Kelley Williams-Bolar, a single African-American mother jailed and convicted of a felony earlier this year for enrolling her children in a school district in which she did not live.
The news comes after more than 184,000 Change.org members emailed Kasich's office in support of Williams-Bolar since January of this year, when her conviction sparked a viral campaign on Change.org created by Massachusetts resident Caitlin Lord (read Lord's account of why she started the petition).
Alongside African-American citizen coalition ColorOfChange.org, Change.org members from around the country called Kasich's office on Tuesday, September 6, urging him to pardon Williams-Bolar. Ohio's Parole Board had recommended that Williams-Bolar not receive a reduction in sentencing.
"Kelley is overjoyed by the Governor's decision," said David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center and Williams-Bolar's attorney. "She would like to thank all of her supporters who were called to action through Change.org and ColorOfChange.org."
The popularity of the campaign for Kelley Williams-Bolar was groundbreaking for Change.org, the world's fastest-growing platform for social change.
"Kelley Williams-Bolar's story resonated with parents and teachers throughout the country," said Carol Scott, Senior Organizer for Education at Change.org. "More than 180,000 people across the country joined the online campaign on Change.org calling on Gov. John Kasich to pardon her, making it the third most popular petition in the site's history. Clearly the governor heard their concerns."
Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, praised Gov. John Kasich's decision to reduce Kelley Williams-Bolar's felony charges to misdemeanors.
"Gov. Kasich's decision today to reduce Ms. Williams-Bolar's offenses from felonies to misdemeanors is proof that he heard the ColorOfChange.org community loud and clear. It has long been obvious that the punishment this single mother faced far outweighed whatever missteps she made in the quest to keep her children safe. That's why nearly 70,000 of our members signed a petition earlier this year calling on the governor to show compassion. In the past 24 hours, hundreds of people have flooded his office with calls. The energy in support of Ms. Williams-Bolar and her family has been tremendous, and today we are pleased that she will be able to move on in her life without the burden of felony convictions haunting her every step of the way. This case has drawn attention to the struggles families across this nation face in keeping their children safe and identifying educational options that allow them to do just that."
Live signature totals from Caitlin Lord's campaign on behalf of Kelley Williams-Bolar:
AP coverage of the reduced charges: