NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Two more school employees have been placed on administrative leave, just days after a Davisville Middle School teacher was placed on leave over allegations that he’d stalked a preteen girl he had been coaching.
Interim Superintendent Michael Waterman announced the actions on Wednesday and said that investigations have begun into allegations that have been received. He did not identify the two other school employees or the nature of the allegations involving them. In a statement to the media, Waterman said that he would report the findings of the investigations to the school committee and the school community.
Waterman also sent a separate letter to the school department staff announcing the investigations.
“As we have seen in our community as well as other school communities, this is a difficult but important conversation to have and often comes with a great deal of speculation in the community. I ask that you respect the privacy of all students and staff involved as we complete our investigations,” Waterman wrote. “I want to make sure that you, our staff, know that we will be conducting fair investigations of all matters, no matter how big or small. We deeply appreciate the trust you have with the school community and with your students.”
Waterman had placed the Davisville Middle School teacher on administrative leave on Friday, after a lawyer for the family of a preteen girl alleged that the teacher had been fixated on her and stalked her.
Lawyer Timothy J. Conlon sent a letter to the school department on Thursday with the family’s allegations; he also sent the letter to Assistant US Attorney Kevin L. Hubbard, who is working on the ongoing civil rights investigation into complaints about former boys high school basketball coach Aaron Thomas conducting “naked fat tests” of teen boys.
Conlon is representing several former student-athletes who said Thomas had conducted “body fat tests” on them while they were naked and alone with him, over years. While Conlon was investigating those complaints, the family of the preteen girl came forward with allegations about a different teacher -- and a similar story of school officials being slow to respond.
The middle school teacher, who is not named, was coaching the pre-teen girl when her family said he became fixated on her and made arrangements to be alone with her, according to Conlon’s letter. When she attempted to avoid him, the teacher began stalking her, Conlon said. The family told Conlon that the teacher had a history of similar behavior with other young, female students he coached.
The family alleges that they told several school officials, including then-Superintendent Philip Auger and School Committee Chairman Gregory Blasbalg, who were slow to respond — until the mother said she was going to seek a restraining order against the coach.
The teacher was then removed from coaching in the North Kingstown school district, but got coaching jobs in two other school districts while continuing to teach in North Kingstown, Conlon’s letter said. Parents at another school district told the North Kingstown family that the teacher had coaching sessions in his basement and appeared to fixate on a select few girls, Conlon wrote.
Auger had reviewed the family’s allegations, and the matter had been considered closed at the time.
However, after receiving Conlon’s letter, Waterman announced that he’d ordered an independent investigation into the family’s complaints and how the allegations were handled.
So far, that has resulted in Waterman placing three school employees, including the teacher, on administrative leave in less than a week.