Thursday, April 08, 2010

Charges Filed in Case of Bullied 15-year-old Phoebe Prince

Some parents are demanding resignations from school staff in this case, but to be effective, such measures should take place BEFORE a suicide or other serious harm occurs. Board members and administrators at Chula Vista Elementary who were involved in covering up bullying should resign now: Lowell Billings, Pamela Smith, Larry Cunningham, and former board members Bertha Lopez, Pat Judd and Cheryl Cox should issue apologies.

Three more arraignments slated in Phoebe Prince case
Boston Globe
April 8, 2010
By Globe Staff

Three more arraignments are slated for today in the case of Phoebe Prince, the South Hadley High School student who committed suicide after what law enforcement officials say was an extreme case of bullying.

Flannery Mullins, Sharon Chanon Velazquez, and Ashley Longe, all 16 and from South Hadley, are slated to be arraigned in Hampshire-Franklin Juvenile Court in Hadley. They are being charged both as adults and as youthful offenders with civil rights violations and stalking.

Three others were arraigned Tuesday in Hampshire Superior Court, with their attorneys entering not guilty pleas on their behalf.

Prince, who came from Ireland and was starting her first year at the high school, hanged herself Jan. 14 after enduring what prosecutors called relentless bullying.

Revenge of the Mean Girls: bullied Phoebe's 'tortuous' last day
The Sydney Morning Herald
March 31, 2010

Shock and anger has spread through a rural Massachusetts town where prosecutors have charged nine teenagers with bullying an Irish immigrant girl who later committed suicide.

Parents in South Hadley were struggling to deal with the tragedy in which US authorities have accused students of hounding 15-year-old Phoebe Prince until she killed herself. And they allege school staff failed to intervene.

The local district attorney, Elizabeth Scheibel, charged nine students with a variety of crimes, including stalking, harassment and statutory rape, saying they had made Prince's last day alive "tortuous".

"She was subjected to verbal harassment and threatened physical abuse," Scheibel said.

"The events were not isolated, but the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behaviour and threats of physical harm."

Prince enrolled last year at the high school in idyllic South Hadley after emigrating from County Clare in Ireland. On January 14, she walked home and hanged herself, to be discovered by her younger sister.

What might have remained a private tragedy erupted into public outrage on Monday when authorities announced the charges.

That outrage grew on Tuesday as parents confronted the disturbing details of the case, in which a student clique reportedly known as the Mean Girls allegedly made the newcomer's life hell in revenge for dating an older boy.

Worse, it was alleged that teachers were out of touch with student relationships and did not think of stepping in.

Scheibel said the bullying had been "common knowledge".

"Certain faculty, staff and administrators of the high school also were alerted to the harassment of Phoebe Prince before her death. Prior to Phoebe's death, her mother spoke with at least two school staff members about the harassment Phoebe had reported to her," the prosecutor said...

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