Education Secretary Arne Duncan said today it's "morally unacceptable" that an Ohio mom who was convicted of two felonies for faking documents to send her kids to a better school district couldn't find another alternative for her children.
"Where children have one option and that option isn't a good one, that's just absolutely morally unacceptable," Duncan said.
He was asked the question at a live roundtable discussion with reporters and bloggers organized by the White House.
Kelley Williams-Bolar, a teaching assistant, served more than a week in jail after a jury found her guilty of two felony crimes for falsifying documents to send her children to Copley-Fairlawn schools, instead of the schools at Akron, according to The Beacon Journal. As of 2009, 70 percent of students at Akron schools qualify for free or reduced lunch plans and only about 50 to 70 percent of third to eighth graders pass math and reading standardized tests. In Copley-Fairlaw Middle School, only about 16 percent of kids are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
The judge in the case says she has received outraged calls from people in the community who think the punishment was too severe, but she told the Beacon Journal the prosecutors' office would not agree to reduce the charges to misdemeanors. The convictions may prevent Williams-Bolar from keeping her job as a teacher's assistant in Ohio. Copley-Fairlawn schools say she owes them $30,000 for the years her daughters attended their schools.
Duncan didn't comment specifically on Willaims-Bolar's case, but said his policies of encouraging the development of charter schools and forcing the bottom 5 percent of schools to radically change their staff will help change the status quo. Akron schools received $9.1 million through the federal Race to the Top program to adopt programs to improve student performance.