PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence teacher accused of child molestation remains on paid leave, the school district said Thursday.
Joseph Teno, 51, was charged Thursday with two counts of second-degree child molestation after two students at Esek Hopkins Middle School accused him of inappropriately touching them.
The Providence Public School District first placed Teno on paid leave in December after a sixth-grade girl claimed he touched her inappropriately, court documents show. A month later, an eighth-grade girl came forward with a similar accusation.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), Teno started teaching math at the school in September after he was issued an emergency certification. RIDE has granted 413 of those certifications as a means to help schools grapple with a workforce shortage.
The district declined to comment on why Teno hasn’t been fired, but said he successfully completed the required background check when he was hired. Teno has no prior criminal history other than traffic violations.
“The report indicated, in accordance with federal and state law, that Mr. Teno did NOT have any disqualifying information,” a district spokesperson wrote in a statement.
Teno could not immediately be reached for comment. A phone number listed in court records is disconnected and the home address listed is a warehouse in Warwick.
Teno was arraigned Thursday in Providence District Court Thursday and released on personal recognizance.
“We take these allegations and the safety of our students extremely serious and took swift action to ensure the person in question had no further contact with students,” the district spokesperson added.
Sarah Doiron, Eli Sherman, Steph Machado, Tim White, and Amanda Pitts contributed to this report.