Providence: 2 students recanted abuse allegations against school employees

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Two Providence students from different middle schools have been disciplined after recanting abuse allegations against school employees this week, according to the school department.

Laura Hart, a spokesperson for the district, said both students made the claims this week. Hart declined to identify the students or the types of punishment they received.

In a Facebook post Friday, Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro also said two students recanted their allegations this week.

“It is my hope that more students will realize the severity of these false accusations and follow suit,” Calabro wrote.

City officials confirmed this week 72 school employees – including 36 teachers – had been placed on paid administrative leave since the beginning of the school year because of abuse allegation of failing to report abuse claims. They say the unprecedented increase is related to a R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) policy that requires the agency to conduct investigations prior to the school department, but other major school districts have not had the same spike in leaves.

All but 16 school employees were back on the job as of Monday. Calabro has accused students of making false or fabricated allegations against employees. Until confirming that twos students had been punished, district leaders had been hesitant to say whether they believed students were making inaccurate claims.

Superintendent Chris Maher said this week he plans to personally review all abuse allegations against employees to determine whether they should be placed on leave pending a DCYF investigation.

Before the school year started, a principal at Harry Kizirian Elementary School was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly failing to report abuse allegations. A teacher at the school was arrested in June for allegedly molesting several children. Both individuals have pleaded not guilty.

Continue the discussion on FacebookDan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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