Farricker on Palosz Lawsuit: Administration must take responsibility for bullied boy’s suicide.

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Frank Farricker on Sept. 8:

When I was a child, I was bullied. I can still recall what it felt like to be so eager to fit in, and be accepted by the other kids, and sometimes just how dark it felt to be alone. If not for the good fortune of having a loving family to support me and concerned Greenwich teachers to guide me, I might not have had the same opportunity to grow up and thrive in our community

Sadly, Bart Palosz wasn’t afforded all the same opportunities. Bart was a boy who withstood what appeared to be years of withering bullying as a Greenwich Public School student and who sadly succumbed to take his own life. By all accounts, Bart was regularly bullied from elementary school through to that first day at high school. His pain and suffering were just too much for him to bear.

As a community, we have an obligation to protect the children within our care. We cannot expect perfection from those who are expected to teach, administer, and oversee our almost 10,000 pupils. However, when we have failed and such horrendous result occurs, such as that which occurred with Bart, we must as a community take responsibility for the aftermath. Discussions have taken place to try and acknowledge the responsibility that Greenwich has for not doing enough to identify and correct the lapses that played a part in the suicide of this young boy. Unfortunately, rather than take the opportunity to learn from what occurred and use it as a platform to ensure this kind of bullying does not reoccur, a two year process of litigious behavior triggered a lawsuit that should have never happened at all. In relation to this suit, filed by Bart’s parents due to a legal deadline, it has been said publicly by town officials that the circumstances of the death of Bart were “complex”. In relation to the potential for a financial settlement, some may see Bart’s case as “defensible” meaning that Greenwich could potentially be led to use the legal process to avoid taking responsibility for the events that contributed to Bart’s death.

To proceed in this manner is not defensible, it is a cruel reminder to a family that just commemorated the second anniversary of the death of their son that while we may grieve the loss of a young life, the bodies involved have not, or will not accept responsibility. Our administration risks creating an environment where instead of using Bart’s death to prevent future tragedies, they hide behind attorneys and legal theories to evade admission in responsibility. In this act our town body demands that the Palosz family revisit daily their pain in their desire to find justice, disallowing the family to move forward in their present lives.

As a parent of high schoolers, and with my own personal history, I believe that we need to do right by our children to ensure all bullied children be provided with the care and support of a loving community, one that lifts them up, acknowledges their pain, and takes great care to give them and their families the resources and guidance they need to lead productive long lives in our community. To that end, our beginning starts with the firm acknowledgement of the culpability of our town and a halt to the pointless legal gyrations of the administration. Our town must settle the case, let the family move on and lets make a strong community commitment to stamp out bullying so it never happens again, not ever.

  • I completely agree with the sentiments Mr Farricker expresses here. My own child suffered severe bullying at Western, and it was handled -(or rather covered up) extremely badly by the administrators, as I explained here. http://sarahdlittman.blogspot.com/2013/09/on-bullying-in-memory-of-bart-palosz.html However, this begs the question: How does Mr. Farricker reconcile this position with the fact that he supported the candidacy of Marc Abrams for State Rep in the 149th, when anyone who has reviewed Mr. Abrams’ email history will be aware that he exhibits exactly the same qualities that Mr. Farricker claims to abhor and decry in this letter?

  • Chuck

    Sadly, I have heard the same story from many parents, who have sent their kids to Western. A few of the parents had children with special needs, which really disturbed me. What kind of kid picks on a child with special needs? I think the blame has to be equally shared with the school and the parents of these bullies.

  • Chuck, I hope you aren’t getting the wrong idea about because it was Western. The father of one the kids doing the bullying of my son was a lawyer. And yes, I do blame the parents as well as the school, because the father of this young man was obviously modeling the bullying behavior – I could see it in the way he tried attempted to bully me as a single mother, and succeeded in bullying the administrators. It was a disgrace. That is why I think that we should read Barbara Coloroso’s book “The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander from Preschool to High School: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle” as a town read. Bullying behavior doesn’t end in high school. It carries on in the work place, in politics, in marriages…so the more we can educate people the better.

  • Chuck

    No Sarah,

    Western just happened to be the school that these kids attended. I think bullies can come from any type of family, middle class or well to do.