ORLEANS – In midst of questions concerning his time as athletic director at a Rhode Island high school, Keith Kenyon resigned last week as principal of Nauset Regional Middle School.
Kenyon was hired in 2010 as athletic director and football coach at Nauset Regional High School. He was later named interim principal at the middle school, a post he assumed full time in November.
Mark Wilson, the former principal of Monomoy Regional Middle School, will serve as interim principal through the end of the school year on June 30, Nauset School Superintendent Brooke Clenchy said in a statement May 27.
Clenchy said Kenyon formally tendered his resignation on May 25, and that an “amicable” separation agreement was settled upon.
"We thank Keith for his service to the district and wish him the best in the future," Clenchy said.
Kenyon is one of several defendants named in a lawsuit filed last month in Bristol County Superior Court that alleges that the school committee in North Kingstown, R.I., and certain North Kingstown school employees, including Kenyon, were negligent in their supervision of Aaron Thomas, a former teacher and coach who allegedly had inappropriate contact with students through a "fat testing" program that he ran at North Kingstown High School. Kenyon was the director of athletics and student activities at the high school from 1985 to 2009.
The suit also alleges that Kenyon was allowed to help promote the program through his for-profit side business, Athletic IQ, and that he named Thomas to the role of “test station operator.”
Prior to his resignation, Kenyon said he believed he would be “vindicated” of any claims made against him in the suit. He has denied involvement in any alleged wrongdoing.
"I am sad to go, but I think it is the best thing for my family and me personally as well as for the school and the students and families," he said in an email May 27.
Thomas was hired in North Kingstown "at or around 1989," and by 1993 was working as a video technology and editing teacher and basketball coach in the district, according to the suit. He was fired in February 2021.
The plaintiffs, identified in the suit as "John Doe 42 and Parent Doe 42," allege that Thomas used his coaching position to "recruit children, from both within and without the school," to take part in the fat testing. That testing involved "having children strip naked, inappropriate touching of naked children and having them assume various poses in the nude at [Thomas'] discretion," according to the suit.
Specifically, the suit claims that John Doe 42 took part in the fat testing “on or about November of 2015” while a student at the high school. As part of the testing, Thomas allegedly “placed his hands within inches of the boy’s genitals” while the student was naked, according to the suit.
From that experience, John Doe 42 “sustained emotional distress and mental suffering, requiring mental health counseling,” the suit alleges.
Kenyon referred to his resignation as a retirement. He continued to maintain that he had no knowledge of Thomas' alleged behavior during his tenure in North Kingstown. He also said that an independent investigation into the fat testing program found that North Kingstown officials didn't learn of the allegations against Thomas until 2017, well after he resigned as athletic director.
However, the investigator, Matthew Oliverio, said in a March 14 report detailing his findings that Kenyon failed to respond to requests for his cooperation in the investigation, a charge that Kenyon has denied.
Kenyon said the scrutiny surrounding the allegations have taken "a toll" on him both personally and professionally, and have impacted his ability to continue as middle school principal in Nauset.
"The distraction of this case is one that I do not want to bring to [Nauset Regional Middle School], one that is too large to deal with while trying to give this school and the students and families of NRMS my very best, as I have always sought to do," he said. "As such, I decided to retire and, therefore, submitted my resignation."
Kenyon's resignation comes as Neal Milan, the middle school's assistant principal, has also announced that he will retire at the end of the school year.
"We recognize that this time of temporary transition may be of concern to staff, students and families, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we strive to work together to build a strong administrative team at the Nauset Regional Middle School for the 2022-2023 school year and beyond," Clenchy said.
The district will advertise for a new principal next week in hopes of interviewing and naming someone to the position by mid-July, Clenchy said.
Email Ryan Bray at firstname.lastname@example.org