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NK School Committee calls closed-door meeting amid scandal over naked ‘fat tests’

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The North Kingstown School Committee has called an unusual closed-door meeting for Saturday morning amid a growing scandal involving the former high school boys’ basketball coach.

The School Department posted notice of the planned meeting on its website Tuesday. The decision comes one day after Target 12 released a months-long investigation into Aaron Thomas, the former coach who has been accused of getting underage former students naked alone with him in his office for years.

No agenda has been posted yet, but the committee is slated to meet at 9 a.m. in executive session, meaning it will be closed to the public. North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Auger, who typically attends the meetings, didn’t immediately respond to questions about what would be discussed.

School Committee members have not responded to multiple questions regarding Thomas.

A list of North Kingstown School Committee meetings this year shows none have happened on a weekend, and that the upcoming Saturday meeting is the only one described as “executive session.” It was posted ahead of a regularly scheduled School Committee meeting scheduled for Nov. 16.

The elected officials will gather at the same time the School Department has come under intense public scrutiny because of Thomas’s alleged behavior.

Thomas was a celebrated coach who helped North Kingstown High win its first-ever state championship two years ago, but in June he quietly resigned from the school with no announcement.

He was quickly hired by a Catholic middle school, Monsignor Clarke, in neighboring South Kingstown. But last Friday he was placed on administrative leave after Target 12 started asking questions about the allegations against him.

A Target 12 review of dozens of documents, along with interviews with ten former students, parents and town officials, shows Thomas has been accused of regularly having former students strip naked for so-called “fat tests.”

The tests happened behind closed door without witnesses or parental consent, according to police records and interviews with former students and parents who either played for him or had children who played for him between the early 2000s and 2019.

The School Committee met in February and voted to terminate Thomas. But the coach resigned before the termination took effect, according to a letter Auger sent to parents after Target 12 first reported the news Friday night.

A spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, which oversees Monsignor Clarke, said North Kingstown never notified officials there about Thomas’ past behavior.

“They gave absolutely no indication or reason that he shouldn’t be hired,” spokesperson Michael Kieloch said, referencing a call he said that happened between principals at the time. “There was nothing negative said about him on the call.”

While the North Kingstown Police Department told Target 12 in September that the investigation had been closed with no criminal charges filed against Thomas, last week a spokesperson for R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha said the investigation is ongoing.

On Tuesday, Neronha spokesperson Kristy dosReis said the attorney general is working on the investigation with North Kingstown police, who have declined to be interviewed about Thomas.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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