North Kingstown School Committee details timeline of Coach Aaron Thomas investigation

The coach is under investigation by the Rhode Island State Attorney General's Office regarding the manner in which he conducted "fat checks" on student athletes.
Photo: WLNE

North Kingstown, RI (WLNE) – The North Kingstown School Committee held a Saturday morning meeting to discuss the investigation involving former North Kingstown High School basketball coach Aaron Thomas.

Parents protested outside the Saturday meeting, calling for the superintendent to be fired.

Thomas is under investigation by the Rhode Island State Attorney General’s Office regarding the manner in which he conducted “fat checks” on student athletes at the school.

Thomas resigned from North Kingstown High at the end of the last school year.  This school year, he had begun teaching middle school at Monsignor Clarke in Wakefield. Upon learning of the allegations at North Kingstown, Monsignor Clarke put Thomas on administrative leave and ultimately fired him on Friday.

After Saturday’s meeting, the North Kingstown School Committee released a lengthy statement detailing the timeline of events of the investigation into the “fat checks”. The statement said the committee is “unaware of any information that indicates any member of the administration acted inappropriately with regards to the investigation.”

The statement said one former student came forward anonymously in 2018 to say that Thomas was conducting “fat checks” in his office. The former student said he felt uncomfortable during the checks. The former student said he was clothed during the “fat check” and that he was not touched. However, the student said that it was unusual. The statement said Thomas was then instructed to only conduct “fat checks” in the locker room with at least two adults present.

On February 12, 2021, the statement said another former student came forward to say that he was naked when Thomas conducted “fat checks” on him in 2006. The former student said he was alone with Thomas in his office. According to the statement, the student said Thomas touched him inappropriately during at least one of the “fat checks”. At that point, the school committee said the school put Thomas on administrative leave. The school also asked the North Kingstown Police Department to investigate. On February 24, the school committee voted to terminate Thomas at the end of the school year, which the statement notes was the earliest time allowed by Rhode Island state law.

The school committee statement said the school department hired attorney Michael Oliverio to conduct an independent investigation. The school committee said Thomas refused to cooperate with that independent investigation. The statement also noted that the first student who came forward did not want to participate in an interview. However, Oliverio determined there was enough evidence that Thomas had “acted inappropriately and without parental consent”.

While still on administrative leave in June 2021, Thomas resigned before his termination would have happened. The school committee said they did not negotiate the resignation.

The school committee said the Rhode Island Department of Education was notified about “the circumstances of the resignation of Aaron Thomas” prior to the current school year.

The school committee said that someone from Monsignor Clarke contacted the North Kingstown High School administration on September 1, 2021 asking for a recommendation for Aaron Thomas. The statement said a recommendation was not provided. In a statement provided by Monsignor Clarke on Friday, the principal said he contacted the North Kingstown High School principal himself and was not given any negative information regarding Thomas. Dr. Arthur Lisi of Monsignor Clarke wrote, “I personally reached out to and spoke to the North Kingstown High School Principal, his supervisor at his last job, to make sure Mr. Thomas was the right person for our middle school. The principal had the opportunity to warn us and instead withheld all negative information.”

The North Kingstown School Committee’s statement said the North Kingstown Police Department informed North Kingstown school officials in September that they completed their investigation and did not find evidence of activity that warranted criminal charges.

The North Kingstown School Committee ended the statement by urging anyone with additional information to come forward. The school committee said they are “committed to the safety of our students and to open and honest communication.”

Read the entire statement detailing the timeline of the North Kingstown School Department’s investigation of Aaron Thomas here:

North Kingstown School Department statement

 

Read more on the protest outside of Saturday’s school committee meeting here: https://www.abc6.com/parents-protest-outside-north-kingstown-school-committee-meeting/pic/976640/

 

Click here to read more information about the termination of Aaron Thomas from Monsignor Clarke:

Categories: News, Rhode Island