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NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The embattled North Kingstown School Department has a new superintendent.

The North Kingstown School Committee selected Dr. Kenneth Duva to lead the district Friday night. He will officially step into his new role on July 1.

North Kingstown School Committee chairwoman Erin Earle described Duva as “an excellent choice” to lead the district.

“Dr. Duva is an experienced educator and school administrator with 23 years of experience in public education as a teacher and administrator in Rhode Island with extensive experience in special education,” Earle said.

Duva has served as the superintendent of the Jamestown School Department since 2016. He is taking the reins from interim superintendent Dr. Frank Pallotta, who has been leading the district since the sudden resignation of his predecessor Judy Paolucci.

Paolucci stepped down as interim superintendent back in January, citing conflict with the town’s school committee during her two-month tenure. She was briefly replaced by interim assistant superintendent Katherine Sipala before the school committee chose Pallotta as Paolucci’s temporary replacement.

Earle thanked Pallotta for leading the district during its search for a permanent superintendent.

“He is a dedicated educational leader and we are extremely grateful for his willingness to assist the [district],” Earle said. “We feel very lucky to be on his list of school districts he has contributed during his award-winning career.”

Duva will soon lead a school district that’s been embroiled with controversy over the past year.

Target 12 first reported that former boys basketball coach Aaron Thomas had for decades been conducting so-called naked fat tests with underage students behind closed doors back in October 2021. Thomas was criminally charged with child molestation and sexual assault last fall.

The scandal led to the resignation of many top-ranking school officials, including former Superintendent Phil Auger. He was replaced by interim Superintendent Michael Waterman, who held the position until Paolucci was hired in early November.

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