Perhaps the most surprising finding of Ted Nesi and Tim White’s follow-up article on the matter of Frank Montanaro, Jr.’s free college tuition is that only two other Rhode Island College employees have received tuition waivers while on unpaid leave from work in the last decade. The obvious headline news, however, is that Montanaro received much more and was the only one who needed some sort of special approval.
But documents obtained by Target 12 show Montanaro was in fact the only member of the PSA union who received free tuition while on leave in the past decade, and that he obtained it thanks to a special “administrative authorization” by top college officials. RIC and Montanaro refuse to release the documents showing how the arrangement was structured and who approved it, though they have acknowledged former RIC President Nancy Carriuolo was involved and that the union reached “a negotiated settlement” with RIC over the matter in 2016.
Unfortunately, the key data point isn’t included, and may not be possible to find: namely, how many other employees took leave and were denied the benefit or didn’t even bother applying because they knew they shouldn’t be eligible. That Montanaro was the only one receiving special permission and one of only three to receive some free tuition while on leave may only tell us that there are few employees who are similarly situated.