School's Insensitive Gaffe in Teen Truancy Mix-Up Leaves Us Heartbroken for His Dad

Heartbreaking 59

Talk about your ‘whoops’ moments. Someone from a Prospect Heights International High School in Brooklyn called the father of a truant student to ask what was up with his abysmal attendance record. 16-year-old Jean Fritz Pierre drowned on a class trip last June.

Not only that, but Jean’s grief-stricken dad filed a $5 million suit against the city earlier this month over his son’s death. Jonas Pierre said the call broke his heart all over again. “I think, why are you calling, why are you telling me this,” he said. “Don’t you know my son is dead?”

Last June, Jean Fritz was one of 48 students on a field trip to Rockland County’s Bear Mountain State Park to celebrate the end of the school year. Along with a friend, he decided to cool down in Hessian Lake, even though swimming is banned there because of deep underwater pits.

The teens were asked four times by park officials that spotted them to return to land, but Jean Fritz disappeared under the water. They found his body after a 50-minute search, and cops say the cause of death was accidental drowning. School staffers were cleared of any wrongdoing this week by city investigators, but Pierre still blames them.

How could this slip through the cracks? Don’t you think there should be a memo or something to all school staff about the devastated dad of the deceased teen that blames the school and is suing for $5 million dollars? It seems like this was just a horribly tragic accident, but this dad should be treated with kid gloves as he grieves the death of his only son.

The Education Department issued an official apology and said they would make sure that Pierre doesn’t receive any more phone calls about his son’s lack of school attendance.

Do you think the school's official apology is enough?


Image via Ken Shelton/Flickr

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Sad but,if he was in high school, one would have to assume he could read. The school should not be sued in this case

Johni... Johnie_Sweeney

It was completely the teenagers fault!!!!! He was told more than once to get out of the water. Its not the schools fault in no way...

the4m... the4mutts

The school officials that called about the "truancy" are complete morons, and I feel TERRIBLE for this dad!

Tal0n Tal0n

No, it's not enough.  My son died four days after birth.  A year later we got phone calls and letters saying he was behind on vaccinations.  We called, complained, they apologized said it wouldn't happen again.

Except it did.

At least four more times.

Seriously, what the actual fuck.  No, that apology is NOT enough.

Sophi... SophiasChoice

The person who called the father is a complete moron, but I don't understand why the father is trying to get any money out of this(Of course, that is assuming the story of how boy died is 100 perecnt accurate). I don't see how he can blame the school for his sons death. It's like blaming a tan salon for giving you skin cancer. Swimming was banned unless the kid can't read, the school can't be blamed. It is still an absolute tragedy and I don't think the apology is worth much of anything at this point.

nonmember avatar Jessica

When I left my old school it took them almost a year to get it through there head I was no longer there and didn't need a 5am phone call to tell me school was canceled. So I understand these things happen

Tim Maguire

His son may have acted stupidly, but he acted stupidly on a school trip. Given schools' extreme assertions of in loco parentis, it will be hard for them to argue they weren't responsible. This phone call reinforces the image of an incompetent organization failing in its duty of care.

Paul A'Barge

The school should have sued the father for inflicting on the school the insubordinate son and the expense of having to find the boy's body.

nonmember avatar Imalwaysangry

Schools tell students that they can't even point their fingers at each other because it looks like a gun; they tell students they caan't oplay tag or dodgeball; they tell students they can get birth control and abortions without their parents' knowledge or consent, and schools feed kids two meals a day. Sounds to me like they're in loco parentis, which means they take responsibility for everything that happens on that school trip. The fact that they called this poor father indicates the level of their incompetence. Sue the hell out of the school - too bad he probably can't recover from the individual teachers and chaperones who were there, but maybe he can bankrupt the district and release the kids to attend schools that are run by competent teachers and administrators.

Lee Reynolds

Human beings are responsible for their own choices. He chose to swim despite both warning signs not to, and clear instructions from the part staff to get out of the water. He's dead because he was foolish, not because of anything the school did or did not do.

If I were the judge, I'd dismiss the case with prejudice.

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