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Shy or not shy: The truth about the North Kingstown School Department

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Lissette Quiñones

Arts and Entertainment Editor

Image via Emily Brennan

When it comes to revealing the truth about an awful allegation, how shy or not shy are you?

Former North Kingstown teacher and basketball coach Aaron Thomas resigned from the school promptly after being hired by The Monsignor Clarke School in the opposing South Kingstown. However, after shortly being hired there, he was placed on administrative leave, and reasonably so. Considering the allegations made from former students as well as current ones, Thomas was let go on Friday, November 5.

In 2018, North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Auger was initially notified of Thomas conducting “body fat tests" and requiring male athletes and students to meet in a secret location within the campus. Students claimed he asked them if they were “shy or not shy”, then proceeded to make them strip down naked, without consent, witnesses and warnings. Students were then instructed to do a variety of tests and stretches. In some cases it was said that he would go so far as to invade the genital area, using a caliper to pinch the skin and measure the fat.

We are now in 2021, and this case is just now being re-evaluated due to the amount of students coming forward as other victims of misconduct. The North Kingstown Police Department was amongst the very few who were notified as early as 2018. They have now gotten involved because of the families and many community members who are at their throats, questioning their motive and wondering why it took them three years to be concerned.

On Saturday Nov. 6, a school committee meeting was held at the North Kingstown High School, where it was said that the Monsignor Clarke School contacted the schools head principle, Barbara Morse. She at the time knew about the situation at hand and decided to remain silent, putting the students at her school in the same circumstance. The same issue those who were brave enough to come forward were trying to put an end to.

The meeting revealed that dating back to this past February a vote was conducted after beginning their private investigation of Thomas, with the purpose of having him terminated from his position at North Kingstown High School. Of course, before that could happen, he took it upon himself to resign due to sudden medical issues.

Concerned members of the community and families of the victims were surrounding the building at the time of the meeting, chanting “Leave our children alone” and “Shame on You”, while holding signs with other sayings and slurs.

A disclosure from the meeting also stated that the R.I Department of Children, Youth and Families was informed that the NKPD was already investigating. It was found that allegations go back further than initially thought, as the first students to come forward go all the way back to the early 90’s. The North Kingstown School Department swept it under the rug to avoid trouble from the public.

As of right now, Auger has yet to release a statement following the meeting, denying the questions asked by the press. After the school was recently awarded as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, it is said that his main focus is keeping the school’s reputation intact in order to be re-elected during the next election season.

Thomas has also yet to speak on the allegations and the situation at hand. Attorney Tim Conlon, who is defending the former students that spoke up, says that he requested legal documents proving the legitimacy of the body fat-tests and has yet to hear back from the school department.

As a former North Kingstown High School graduate of the 21’ class myself, I ask you if the question still remains: When it comes to revealing the truth about an awful allegation, are you shy or not shy? Before you answer, think. If that were your child coming to you with this truth, would you be shy or not shy to make a change in a toxic school department?

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