Updated: Oct. 18 @ 3:55 p.m.
As Greenwich Police released their findings that there wasn't anything criminal surrounding the circumstances of a Greenwich High School student's suicide, Greenwich School Superintendent William McKersie said the district is continuing efforts to provide a proactive and responsive plan to provide a safe school climate.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, McKersie said, "The district and schools have Safe School Climate Committees, dedicated to establishing a positive and safe educational environment. Policies and procedures are in place to address any students who may be at risk of harming themselves or others."
Since the start of the school year, there has been a review of the district's programs, according to McKersie. "We are evaluating our current practices, looking for gaps between what we have in place now and how we might enhance or improve those practices," McKersie said.
Greenwich High school has launched a "hotline and email address that has already been used to report students' concerns," McKersie said in the statement.
Meanwhile, the district is "cooperating fully with (the) independent review (by the town's law department) ... into Bart Palosz's experience as a student in the Greenwich Public Schools ... ," McKersie also said.
Selectman Drew Marzullo weighed in on the police investigation. "While not surprised this was ruled a suicide we as a community have a moral obligation to determine what makes a 15 y/o boy so unhappy that killing himself in such a violent way is his only escape," Marzullo said. "There are many stories of Bart being "bullied" and the schools must account for any actions taken. His head did not end up crashing into a locker on purpose. What happened and what did anyone do about it remains the question."
McKersie also said, "Parent and community organization efforts continue to highlight the topic and are opening up the dialogue on how we are all responsible for creating a safe and secure environment for the youth throughout our community."
He added, "All of these efforts are important and will help, but the most important and immediate thing we can do begins with our own actions. We must each model respectful and appropriate behavior toward others. The example we set each and every day will be the most effective means of changing the culture of mistreatment among peers — young and old."
Here is McKersie's statement in its entirety:
“The Greenwich Police Department (GPD) has released a statement with regard to their investigation into the passing of Greenwich High School student Bartlomiej (Bart) Palosz, finding no criminal aspects to the case.
Our thoughts are with the Palosz family at this difficult time. We remain committed to doing whatever we can to prevent something like this from happening in the future.
The Town of Greenwich Legal Department’s inquiry into Bart Palosz’s experience as a student in the Greenwich Public Schools continues. The District is cooperating fully with this independent review.
Irrespective of the investigations, it is important to come together as a community in support of our youth.
The school district has a comprehensive program in place to provide a safe school climate. It is both proactive and responsive. The District and schools have Safe School Climate Committees, dedicated to establishing a positive and safe educational environment. Policies and procedures are in place to address any students who may be at risk of harming themselves or others.
Since the beginning of the school year, we have been reviewing our current program to identify enhancements and improvements. Some changes have already been made. The high school has launched a dedicated hotline and email address that has already been used to report students’ concerns.
Our students have stepped up to offer support to their peers and to reflect on how they can contribute to a safer and more supportive peer environment both in and out of school.
I have been working with administrators in the District to review our current practices with regard to establishing a safe school climate and in responding to inappropriate or risky behavior. We are evaluating our current practices, looking for gaps between what we have in place now and how we might enhance or improve those practices. This group will be making recommendations for addressing any identified gaps.
Finally, parent and community organization efforts continue to highlight the topic and are opening up the dialogue on how we are all responsible for creating a safe and secure environment for the youth throughout our community. I and other school district representatives are participating in these conversations.
All of these efforts are important and will help, but the most important and immediate thing we can do begins with our own actions. We must each model respectful and appropriate behavior toward others. The example we set each and every day will be the most effective means of changing the culture of mistreatment among peers – young and old.”
Original story: Oct. 18 @ 9:36 a.m.
Greenwich Police say they have not found any evidence of criminal behavior during their investigation of the suicide of Greenwich High School sophomore Bart Palosz.
In a statement released Friday morning, police said they have closed the investigation into the Aug. 27 death of the 15-year-old who used a family shotgun to kill himself in his Byram home after the first day of school. His death was ruled a suicide by the state medical examiner.
"Investigation by the Greenwich Police Department has revealed no criminal aspects to this case," the statement read.
"The scope of any police investigation involving an untimely death is to investigate the incident as a criminal case until the facts prove differently," according to the statement. "The determination of a death as a suicide is based on a series of factors that eliminate other potentialities. Often in suicide cases the motive is never determined. In this instance, our investigation did not uncover any articulation by Bart as to why he took this particular action."
The police statement also said, "The death of a teenager in such a tragic manner is a serious public health issue which the general public, public officials and professionals in the health and human service community need to work together to reduce."
In the days after the teen's death, family members acknowledged that the teen had a history of reported bullying incidents. Greenwich Public School Superintendent William McKersie said at the time, "Bart was known to individuals at the high school and (Western) middle school." Police and the school system launched investigations. The school's investigation was turned over to the Town of Greenwich law department.
Greenwich Police also said Friday, "With respect to both the family and the sensitive nature of this type of investigation, no other information will be released at this time."
Greenwich Patch will update this developing story as details become available.