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Family of bullied teen lost to suicide sues school for neglect

by Jacquelyn Gray, Contributor

Daniel Fitzpatrick’s family claims the school didn’t enforce its own anti-bullying measures

A 13-year-old who committed suicide last year was failed by authorities at his school who ignored — and even perpetuated — bullying that tormented the boy, asserts a lawsuit filed by the boy’s family on Thursday.

Daniel Fitzpatrick reportedly hung himself with a belt in the attic of his Staten Island home on Aug. 11, 2016. The lawsuit claims the teen took his own life following months of abuse at the Holy Angels Catholic Academy by fellow students — and teachers.

According to DNAinfo New York, Fitzpatrick referenced the bullying and the inaction of school officials in his suicide note, writing, “I gave up. The teachers didn’t do anything.” The teen also wrote in an unsent letter in July that the teachers “didn’t do ANYTHING!”, the Staten Island Advance reports.

[Image: Facebook]

Principal Rosemarie McGoldrick and the Diocese of Brooklyn were listed as defendants along with the school, accused of neglecting to enforce the Academy’s anti-bullying program. The parents also claim that bullying was an issue in other schools in the diocese.

Kristen, the boy’s sister and the person who found the 13-year-old’s body, told the Daily News what happened hours before his death:

“I had to get on the computer so I kicked him off, but before he got off the computer he just gave me a hug and kiss said ‘I love you, Kristen.’”

The Staten Island Advance obtained a copy of the lawsuit, and published excerpts. “[Fitzpatrick] was the victim of daily abuse, harassment, and torment by classmates at [the] defendants’ school for years leading up to his death,” the lawsuit reads, adding that the boy’s parents “were concerned for his health, safety, welfare and life and repeatedly complained about the bullying problem.”

The suit also alleges that teachers told his parents that their son “had difficulty concentrating, fidgeted, and was not doing well at school” amid the bullying.

The Diocese of Brooklyn declined to specifically talk about the lawsuit, which is expected to have been be filed on Thursday. Vito Fromica, the diocese spokesperson, told the Staten Island Advance that “the diocese is looking forward to the full disclosure of events in court that led to the tragic and heartbreaking loss of Daniel Fitzpatrick. Our prayers continue to be with his family during this difficult time.”

Jacquelyn Gray is a New Jersey-based writer and journalist. When she's not covering crime, she's probably tweeting or doing yoga.