NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI – Parents rang in a meeting on Tuesday evening, saying there had been a lack of transparency from the North Kingstown School Board regarding the investigation into the former coach’s inappropriate behavior high school basketball player Aaron Thomas.
The meeting comes a week after the release of a nearly 300-page report accusing school administrators of “turning a blind eye” to Thomas’ actions.
Thomas is accused of getting dozens of former underage students to strip alone with him behind closed doors since at least the mid-1990s. Once naked, the students said the coach measured their body fat, touched their upper thighs and had them do various stretches and exercises.
Two school administrators, including Superintendent Phil Auger and Deputy Superintendent Denise Mancieri, have resigned in the past two weeks.
The parents demanded answers from members of the school committee regarding the investigation, including whether any agreements had been reached with Thomas or any other district employees.
“When are we going to get credible and honest answers from the school board?” a parent interviewed. “It’s not just about Thomas or employees or former employees of the school department. It’s about you.
“We are not angry parents,” added another parent. “We are the people who elected you and entrusted our children to you. We have every right to question what happened here under your watch.
The school committee chair was not present due to illness, but Vice Chair Lisa Hildebrand responded to the parents by reading a prepared statement. She said a lengthy legal process usually prevents the district from immediately firing employees.
“I want to be very clear here: there has been no agreement with any of the employees who left the district related to these reports. None,” she said. “I also understand that you are angry. We do too, but we have to obey the law.
The school board also filed Tuesday for approval of new contracts for multiple district administrators, including the principal and athletic director of North Kingstown High School, both named in the recent report.
Hildebrand said they plan to discuss finding a new superintendent and assistant superintendent in the days and weeks ahead.