The police have arrested a Providence woman for allegedly lying about her address to enroll her son at Cranston High School East, apparently the first case of its kind to be prosecuted in the state.
Police Chief Stephen C. McGrath said the police arrested Maria Hernandez of 140 Dodge St. on Friday. The 39-year-old mother was released on personal recognizance, he said.
City officials say Hernandez lied in an affidavit she submitted in September claiming she and her son live in Cranston. She is charged with submitting a false document, a misdemeanor, and one felony count of obtaining property -- in this case, educational services -- under false pretenses. City lawyers say they would seek up to $36,000 in restitution. Officials would not say how long the student attended Cranston High School East, only that it was between one and three years.
Attempts to contact Hernandez yesterday were unsuccessful.
Mayor Stephen P. Laffey called the arrest for fraud and larceny a warning to the parents of the estimated 300 nonresident students attending city schools. The School Department is sending a letter to the parents of every student warning of "decisive action' " against scofflaws.
"This will not be tolerated any longer," Laffey said yesterday at a 2 p.m. news conference in the school administration building on Park Avenue. "If you don't live in Cranston, don't send your kids to Cranston schools."
Michael J. Healey, spokesman for Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, called the arrest "out of the ordinary." Students in many Rhode Island school districts have been expelled for lying about their residence, with some contesting their expulsion before a hearing officer at the state Department of Education, department spokesman Elliot Krieger said. But lawyers for the state say they have never heard of a parent being criminally charged, he said.
I once referred to Laffey as being a graduate of the Rudy Guiliani Academy of Self-Aggrandizing Mayoring and Gratuitous Bullying, and this is exactly why. If any of those border-crossing kids happen to be the children of Cranston crossing guards, I'll bet we get to see some summary executions.
I wonder what sort of wise solution a Senator Laffey would come up with for all those folks playing it fast and loose with the borders between Mexico and the U.S.?