A Hummel Report Investigation
Narragansett is consistently ranked as one of the top public high schools in Rhode Island. So why are three children of a town council leader in a community 45 minutes away going to class there? This week Jim Hummel asks the council member that question and finds out two communities are launching their own investigation based on our findings.
It is 6:20 on a Tuesday morning and the Manzi family is already on the move.
Stephanie Manzi, vice president of the Johnston Town Council, is driving her 16-year-old triplets to school - and traffic is picking up on Route 6 heading east. Instead of making the 10-minute drive from their home to Johnston High School, the Manzis hop onto Route 295 south, to 95 south, to Route 4 south, before taking the exit heading into the heart of South County.
Forty-five minutes after leaving home, Councilwoman Manzi drops her children off in front of ….Narragansett High School. The triplets, now sophomores and honor roll students, have been going to class here since August of 2014, the beginning of their freshman year.
A Hummel Report investigation found Manzi regularly driving her children in the morning from her home in Johnston to the high school 33 miles to the south. Rhode Island state law is clear about where public school students may enroll: in the community where they live - and by extension where at least one of their parents lives.
So we asked her about it after a council meeting last week.
Hummel: ``I understand they go to Narragansett High School, is that correct?’’
Manzi: ``Where my kids go to school? Why is that any public, why is that necessary for public information?’’
Hummel: ``Because you live in Johnston and they’re going to school in Narragansett?’’
Manzi: ``But my husband lives in Narragansett with my kids.’’
Councilwoman Manzi told us her husband Paul, a retired Johnston police officer, who now is a lieutenant on the Rhode Island College Campus Police force, lives in this 784-square-foot cottage on Ocean Road in Narragansett, two blocks from the water. The couple bought it in 2012. And that is the address Paul Manzi used as his principal residence when he registered their children for school.