The Providence Teachers Union is asking why so many teachers are being placed on administrative leave and facing investigations for abusing students. The union called a special meeting with city and school officials Monday.
More than 70 Providence public school employees have cycled in and out of paid leave this year because of allegations they abused students. District officials say that’s more than usual. They attribute the increase to a new state law that requires the state Department of Children, Youth and Families to investigate these allegations. Providence’s policy has been to place staff on leave until the investigation is complete.
But the Providence Teachers’ Union says that created a climate of fear and distrust for teachers. Superintendent Chris Maher says he will now review each case personally before any teacher is placed on leave.
“Administrative leave is not punitive, but to our teachers it feels that way, and I understand that,” Maher said. “And that’s one of the reasons that I’m stepping in, in this case.”
Maher said the state will still review allegations of misconduct by teachers. Almost all the teachers and support staff placed on leave this year have returned to work, according to a district spokeswoman.