Paolucci sorry for comments about absent Providence teachers

Paolucci sorry for comments about absent Providence teachers

Smithfield’s chronic absenteeism is much lower

SMITHFIELD – Supt. Judy Paolucci said comments she made last week that sounded disparaging toward Providence school teachers were not meant to be insulting, and were instead intended to boost Smithfield teachers.

Paolucci sent an email to parents and teachers last week to kick off the new 2019-2020 school year.

In the email, Paolucci said, “The attendance rate of staff was phenomenal – and I hope all the news about Providence schools doesn’t let people think that poor attendance is a characteristic of all teachers!”

Some Providence teachers, a few Smithfield residents and the president of the Providence Teachers Union, all took offense to Paolucci’s comment.

Ryan Connole of Smithfield said in a tweet that he was hurt and angered by “this poor display of leadership.”

Providence teacher Tasha White said she was offended by Paolucci’s “careless judgment and completely unprofessional comments to parents.”

“Not all Providence (teachers) have poor attendance,” White said. She added, “You don’t have to cut people down to build yourself up.”

In a statement released last week, Paolucci said the sentence in the email was misinterpreted.

“My meaning was that all the negative statements from the press should not be applied to all teachers,” she said.

She blamed social media for altering the meaning of the sentence and said she did not intend for the “bad feelings” the misinterpretation caused.

Paolucci said White’s comments were her intention of the message. She said her message was not meant to cause grief.

“Although statistics might point to a certain thing, they can’t be applied to all teachers,” she said.

Paolucci said her comments were about reports in late August that approximately 20 percent of Providence school teachers are chronically absent.

“We had six chronically absent, less than 3 percent, while Providence had 500, or 22 percent,” she said.

According to Paolucci, chronic absenteeism is defined as 18 or more days absent from work. She said putting new, positive practices in place, such as an hour each week where teachers communicate with each other on issues and best practices, is cutting back even more on teacher absenteeism in Smithfield.

“I’ll bet that this year it will be less than 2 percent,” she said.

Paolucci said no teachers, in Smithfield, Providence or anywhere, should be grouped together.

Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro said in a Tweet that she was still seeking an apology on Sept. 6. Paolucci said she did not have time to reach out to each complainant individually, and hopes the earlier statement can be taken as a misunderstanding.


The superintendent speaks truth - Providence teachers exhibit a much higher rate of absenteeism than other districts. What's so controversial about that? 22 percent of them are absent more than 18 days in a 9 month school year? In most industries, absent good cause, you'd be fired for such malfeasance, so this practice should be highlighted by the superintendent. And, if the Prov Teacher's Union President wants an apology, she should seek it from her own teachers who are gaming the system, not someone speaking truth.

Ms. Paolucci was once a Providence teacher. I know because I worked with her. Does she realize how many teachers in Providence live in Smithfield? As well, many of their children may attend one of her schools? Perhaps this was a slip of the tongue, however, parents and students read the news, too and this was hurtful. Providence maybe a beleaguered school system, but like Smithfield, it has had its share of ill-prepared leaders which brought it to this level.

I am a teacher at a Providence High School. I have NOT taken a sick day in years. However, last year I was out 17 days for MANDATED district meetings or training. Does that make me chronically absent? Many of my peers have similar stories. This data does not tell the whole story. All absences, including mandated trainings, bereavement, jury duty, maternity/paternity leave, and long term illness are counted as a whole. Additionally, many of our buildings are very unhealthy, which contributes to teacher absences. I doubt Smithfield's teachers are exposed to similar environments. People are so ready to teacher bash without knowing the whole story. No wonder we have a critical shortage of teachers.

we live in the era of the eternal victim. Wahhhh!!! that comment was hurtful.Let me post all over social media and cry about it. Grow up people, not every comment is a personal insult. Thank GOD our founding fathers weren't such delicate flowers otherwise we'd still be having tea and crumpets instead of iced coffee every day.There,,,I feel better now.