PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Providence school department says two dozen school employees placed on paid leave last year pending Department of Children, Youth and Families investigations missed a combined 278 days of school.

Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro tells the Providence Journal nearly all were cleared of wrongdoing.

DCYF investigations can stem from allegations that an employee violated the mandatory reporting law. The law requires anyone who has reason to suspect a child has been sexually abused to alert authorities.

Calabro says many innocent teachers have been caught up in a "knee-jerk" reaction to the law.

According to Providence Public School Department, nearly 500 teachers missed at least 18 days of school last school year.

Thirty of those teachers missed more than 100 days. Calabro says of them were battling severe illnesses.

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