NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — There’s a new interim superintendent in town.

Dr. Frank Pallotta is now in charge of the embattled North Kingstown School Department.

The town’s school committee appointed Pallotta to lead the district following the sudden resignation of his predecessor Judy Paolucci.

Paolucci stepped down as interim superintendent earlier this month, much to the dismay of teachers and parents.

North Kingstown School Committee Chairwoman Erin Earle described Pallotta as “an experienced educator and school administrator, having served with distinction for nearly 50 years.”

Pallotta previously served as superintendent in Lincoln and Burrillville. Earle said he also served as interim superintendent in East Greenwich and more recently South Kingstown.

“Pallotta has dedicated his professional career to serving as a teacher, principal, administrator and superintendent in Rhode Island,” Earle said in a statement. “In retirement, Pallotta has continued to pursue his passion for education by serving in interim roles.”

Pallotta is taking the reins from interim assistant superintendent Katherine Sipala, who has served as acting interim superintendent for the past few weeks.

Earle thanked Sipala for stepping up following Paolucci’s resignation.

“She is a dedicated educational leader, and her work is exemplary,” Earle said. “Sipala is a skilled professional, and during her time in North Kingstown, she has always put our students’ interests first.”

With Pallotta’s appointment, Sipala will return to her role as interim assistant superintendent.

Pallotta is now leading a school district that’s been embroiled with controversy over the past year.

Target 12 first reported that former boys basketball coach Aaron Thomas had for decades been conducting so-called naked fat tests with underage students behind closed doors back in October 2021. Thomas was criminally charged with child molestation and sexual assault last fall.

The scandal led to the resignation of many top-ranking school officials, including former Superintendent Phil Auger. He was replaced by interim Superintendent Michael Waterman, who held the position until Paolucci was hired in early November.

Earle said the district hopes to have a permanent superintendent selected by July.