A draft report of an eight-month investigation by the Town of Greenwich into the circumstances that preceded the suicide of Greenwich High School student Bartlomiej 'Bart' Palosz, on the first day of school last August indicates the 15-year-old was tormented by students and that Greenwich Public Schools did all it could to react to those torments.
That was the conclusion given Thursday night by Greenwich Town Attorney John Wayne Fox who debriefed the Board of Education that met for its monthly meeting at the Riverside School. Fox said that federal law and the lack of parental permission, precluded him from releasiing specifics of the investigation and discussing details in public.
The eight-member board voted to adjourn the public portion of the meeting and hold an executive session with Fox where more specific information could be discussed but not publicly disclosed.
Fox advised the board that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) would allow him to share Palosz's private educational records that are included in his draft report with the board but board members could not publicly discuss or divulge them. In doing so, would be a violation of FERPA regulations and penalties could jeopardize any federal funding Greenwich schools receive, Fox explained.
The 15-year-old Greenwich High School student ended the first day of his sophomore year on Aug. 27. A teen, who emigrated with his family from Poland, was an avid outdoorsman, apparently went home and used a family shotgun to end his life.
His death was ruled a suicide. In the hours that followed his death, school, town and police officials discussed Bart's battle in the specter of bullying and whether his death could have been prevented.
Greenwich Police conducted an investigation but did not find evidence to indicate there were any criminal acts that led to Bart's actions. In response, the Board of Education in September 2013 turned over its investigation to Fox's office.
Fox told the board, "It is clear from our investigation Bart was subjected to acts by students or groups of students (with) an intent to ridicule, humiliate or intimidate him."
He continued, "It also is clear to me that the school system was aware of those difficulties Bart was having and put into place programs and procedures …. There always will be a question of whether enough was done."
"There are other factors that could have contributed to the death of this child, but we will never know what prompted him to take this drastic step," Fox said.
According to Fox, Greenwich Police were unsuccessful in obtaining a search warrant for Bart's cell phone. He said tht although investigators believed there was crucial information on the phone, the State's Attorney's office ruled there wasn't apparent criminal action or investigation to justify a search warrant.
"The State's Attorney's Office ruled because no crime has been committed, Greenwich Police Department was unable to get search warrant to search Bart's cell phone," Fox said. Access to the phone could have yielded more insight into Bart's death, Fox said. Investigators interviewed nearly 35 people, some multiple times, in attempts to gain information on what led to the Aug. 27 incident, Fox said.
"I cannot get into more detail and cannot get into more specifics — it is our hope to release (the report) publicly in the near future. It is our hope that the family will cooperate," Fox said.
According to Fox, Bart's family has not responded to requests for interviews with investigators or to release documents.