NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The North Kingstown School Committee meeting was packed Monday night following the abrupt resignation of the district’s interim superintendent last week.
Judy Paolucci resigned last Friday, citing conflict with the North Kingstown School Committee as her reason for stepping down.
The committee accepted Paolucci’s resignation, effective immediately, much to the disdain of parents and teachers in the audience.
“[The] recent resignation of Paolucci is another gut punch that we do not deserve,” North Kingstown High School Teacher Lauren Brothers said.
Paolucci elaborated on her decision, explaining that she’s “extremely concerned” with how the district spends money.
The school committee refused to address her concerns, according to Paolucci, adding that nearly all of her emails went unanswered.
Robert Case, vice chairman of the school committee, refuted Paolucci’s claims, arguing that several olive branches were extended throughout her time with the district.
Case said Paolucci was unwilling to follow district policies.
School Committee Chairwoman Erin Earle agreed with Case’s recollection.
“Although I do not disagree that you’ve done wonderful things in certain areas, I have massive concerns in other areas,” Earle told Paolucci during Monday night’s special meeting.
Jennifer Hoskins, a member of the school committee, expressed her disappointment in the situation, and asked her fellow members to reconsider accepting Paolucci’s resignation.
Hoskins said the district could benefit from someone with her experience, since Paolucci previously served as superintendent in Smithfield and several school districts in Massachusetts.
Teachers and parents in the room agreed, and took turns expressing their frustrations, most of which stating she was fit for the role.
“We all know the finances are a hot mess, we absolutely know it,” one parent said. “The problem is, she’s the one who knows how to fix it. They don’t want it fixed.”
Paolucci’s resignation comes just about two months after she took the job at a school district that’s been embroiled with controversy over the past year.
Target 12 first reported that the former boys basketball coach Aaron Thomas for decades had 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.
Interim Assistant Superintendent Katherine Sipala will lead the district until a permanent replacement is chosen.