ORLEANS — Nauset Regional Middle School Principal Keith Kenyon resigned on Wednesday, May 25 following a staff meeting at which he told his coworkers he was leaving immediately.
“At his request, the school district entered amicable negotiations and arrived at a separation agreement for Mr. Kenyon to leave the district’s employ,” Supt. Brooke Clenchy stated in a prepared announcement.
Kenyon, 62, issued his own announcement, stating that he decided to retire after being “dragged” into a legal case that has caused several administrators at the North Kingstown (R.I.) School District, where Kenyon worked previously, to resign as well.
The case centers on Aaron Thomas, the former teacher and varsity high school basketball coach at North Kingston High School, who is accused of using the pretext of body fat testing to get boys to strip naked in his office. Thomas, who was fired in 2021, is alleged to have conducted these tests for over 20 years.
Six former administrators, including Kenyon, are named in a civil suit filed in Providence County Superior Court on April 19 on behalf of a former student identified as John Doe 42. The lawsuit states Thomas’s supervisors failed to monitor him and created a culture that enabled Thomas to “engage in inappropriate physical and/or sexual contact with students.”
John Doe 42 claims Coach Thomas asked him and other students to submit to body fat tests, in which Thomas would use calipers and his bare hands to touch the students’ upper thighs near their genitals. There is no legitimate reason for students to be naked for body mass tests, according to a 300-page investigation issued in two parts by attorney Matthew Oliverio, who was hired to examine the allegations for the North Kingstown School Committee.
Timothy Conlon, the attorney for John Doe 42, told the Boston Globe he had spoken to 42 current and former students who complained about Thomas’s conduct.
Kenyon, who was athletic director for 24 years in North Kingstown, hired Thomas in 1989 as an assistant basketball coach.
Kenyon had been gone from North Kingstown for eight years when the first suspicions of Thomas’s inappropriate behavior reached the ears of administrators, according to Oliverio’s report.
Kenyon explained in his announcement that “Some former athletes have made allegations of wrongful conduct by a former coach whom I supervised before I came to Nauset in 2010. While I have done nothing wrong — and am horrified by what that coach apparently did — I have been dragged into the matter both legally and in the media.
“This situation has taken a toll on me in both my personal and professional lives,” stated Kenyon.
Oliverio concluded in his 300-page report that no administrators knew about the inappropriate tests until 2017, when Athletic Director Howie Hague saw a shirtless boy alone in Thomas’s academic office in a remote part of the school. Though Hague told his principal at the time, nothing changed until more students came forward in 2021.
Kenyon was hired in 2010 as athletic director at Nauset Regional High School and promoted to assistant high school principal in 2015. He became principal of the middle school in 2021.
“The distraction of this case is one that I do not want to bring to Nauset Regional Middle School,” Kenyon stated. “As such, I decided to retire and, therefore, submitted my resignation.”
There is a separation agreement, Clenchy wrote in her statement. The Independent has made a public request for the terms and financial implications of the agreement. On May 31, Clenchy said she is preparing the document with redactions. Public employees have 10 business days to respond to a public records request under state law.
Clenchy said Mark Wilson will serve as interim principal at the middle school until the year ends June 30. Wilson recently retired as principal of Monomoy Regional Middle School.
Clenchy said she would post the position and expected to hire a permanent NRMS principal by mid-July. Before Kenyon resigned, Nauset Middle School Assistant Principal Neal Milan had announced he would retire at the end of this year.