City rejects Beacon request for Ragosta report

By John Howell
Posted 12/29/15

Although the City Council has copies of the so-called Ragosta report, its contents remain under wraps, and the city has denied the Warwick Beacon’s request to make it public under the Access to …

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City rejects Beacon request for Ragosta report


Although the City Council has copies of the so-called Ragosta report, its contents remain under wraps, and the city has denied the Warwick Beacon’s request to make it public under the Access to Public Records Act.

In a response to the Beacon’s request dated Dec. 21, City Solicitor Peter Ruggiero writes that the order of the Superior Court that the School Committee provide a copy of the report to the council “did not authorize nor require release of the records to the public nor address whether the records constituted public records subject to disclosure.”

The report – consisting of transcripts of verbal reports attorney Vincent Ragosta provided the School Committee in executive session on May 11 and May 21 – details what actions school administrators took in response to the parents of two female Gorton students who said a teacher drew penises on the arms of their daughters. The incidents came to light when the teacher, Mario Atoyan, was charged with first- and second-degree sexual assault in an unrelated matter involving a 15-year-old North Kingstown girl.

This summer, the Beacon requested a copy of the report from the School Committee, which was denied on grounds that the matter is an ongoing investigation. The newspaper appealed the action to the Attorney General, contending that the report was completed and it should be made public.

The Attorney General had not offered an opinion as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, the newspaper has also appealed the city’s denial of the report to the Attorney General.

Also, Ed Ladouceur, the Ward 5 councilman who introduced the council resolution to subpoena the report, contends there’s more than what the council has been provided.

“I’m saying there’s a lot more to it than this,” Ladouceur said last Wednesday. He wants access to the transcripts of interviews performed by Ragosta.

Ladouceur said the transcripts of what Ragosta told the committee is “very intense reading” and on page 68, or about two-thirds through the document, “it’s not what’s being said” that he finds most revealing. Ladouceur would not discuss specifics, and like other council members has been advised not to disclose contents of the report.

Ladouceur believes the public has a right to the contents of the report.

“[The School Committee] spent $30,000 of the taxpayers’ money, and they should have the right to know,” he said.

Ladouceur calls it a matter of safety for children, and says the public should know what procedures schools have implemented to deal with such behavior.

Following his arrest on the North Kingstown charges, Atoyan was suspended without pay. When questions surfaced as to how the school administration had handled prior incidents with Atoyan, councilwomen Donna Travis, Camille Vella-Wilkinson, and Kathleen Usler pushed for a council vote of no confidence in three administrators – then superintendent Richard D’Agostino, then director of secondary schools Dennis Mullen, and human services director and then legal counsel Rosemary Healey. D’Agostino and Mullen have retired, and new superintendent Philip Thornton has placed Healey on paid leave.

In a Nov. 23 letter to the Beacon, Healey’s attorney Jeffrey Sowa writes that the report sought by the council “is only a portion of the work conducted by Mr. Ragosta.” Sowa goes on to say the verbal report, which makes up the transcripts given the council, does not include actual witness statements, emails, and other documents.

“These other documents will demonstrate that the Ragosta report was neither fair nor impartial,” he writes.

Thornton said last week that Healey remains on paid leave. She has not been given a hearing, nor has one been scheduled as of last week, he said.


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