SAM Programs Blog

The Safety You Want. The Training Solution You Need.

Training is a very effective means to reduce the risk of suit

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Roland Ouellette - Safety Awareness ManagementI came across this story last week in the local paper The Day. Unfortunately, it is another tragic story about a young kid taking his life — the speculation is that the young man was bullied in school. His father and grandparents are very upset by his death and are suing the town and school district for negligence relating to the bullying incident. Here are the facts as reported by The Day.

The father of a high school student who committed suicide this year has filed a notice that he intends to sue the town and the school district for negligence in a bullying incident that he alleges led his son to take his life.

Jose Mendes, the father of Joseph Mendes, alleges his son’s suicide was caused by “negligence and carelessness” of the town, the Board of Education and employees of Montville public schools.

The law firm of Polito and Quinn LLC, of Waterford, filed notice of the intent to sue with the town clerk’s office last week. The notice alleges that the town and school district did not promptly intervene in the bullying incident and failed to properly investigate a Jan. 20 altercation between Joseph Mendes and other students that occurred eight days before Mendes’ death. (bold face type added by the author)

The school district improperly suspended Mendes for that altercation, the lawsuit said.

Joseph Mendes, 15, a 10th-grade student, died on Jan. 28 of a gunshot wound to the head, the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said. He had recently moved to the school district and posts on the social networking website Facebook attributed his death to bullying.

“Joseph was a very special young man. His father and grandparents have serious concerns about the circumstances which led to his death,” attorney Bert J. Polito Jr. said. “They’ve asked us to help them seek out answers to their questions.”

The school system has maintained that other factors played a part in Joseph Mendes’ suicide. Resident State Trooper Sgt. Michael Collins said that the case has been sent to the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad. Collins said that nothing was found to indicate that bullying was a factor in Joseph Mendes’ death.

Police Lt. Leonard Bunnell Sr. declined comment Tuesday, as did Superintendent of Schools Pamela Aubin and Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz.

Betty Allard, Joseph Mendes’ grandmother, also declined comment. Joseph was living with Allard and her husband, Paul, at the time of his death.

The notice also alleges that the school failed to investigate Joseph Mendes’ condition and symptoms of distress and did not promptly notify the parents of all involved in the bullying incident.

It also said the town and school district failed to properly execute an anti-bullying policy and failed to train its employees how to protect students who are being bullied. (bold face type added by the author)

An event on bullying awareness is scheduled for Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Mohegan Fire Company in Uncasville. The event will also serve as a benefit to raise money for a headstone for Joseph Mendes, Betty Allard said.

We implore you and your administration to take the proper steps to eliminate this behavior. Bullying is a disease in our schools that needs to be addressed with professional intervention. We have developed a training program at SAM which addresses bullying in our schools and trains teachers and administration on all aspects of bullying. I know there is plenty of economic stress in the school system, but can you really afford to wait?

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