April 15th, 2010
05:18 PM ET

Head of school district hit by bullying suicide to step down

The chairman of the school district where a bullied student committed suicide told an agitated crowd Wednesday night that he would be stepping down from his position.

South Hadley School Committee Chairman Edward J. Boiselle made the announcement in the same library where prosecutors say 15-year-old freshmen Phoebe Prince was tormented by bullies hours before she took her life.

Prince hanged herself in the stairwell of her family's apartment in South Hadley, Massachusetts, on January 14, following weeks of taunting by classmates, authorities say. The day before she died, she told a friend: "School has been close to intolerable lately," a court document shows.

The audience at the meeting was larger than usual and divided in its support for the administration. Some angrily called for resignations and others clapped as a disruptive audience member were removed by police.

South Hadley Superintendent Gus Sayer told CNN that administrators requested police presence at the meeting after a local radio station called for critics of the committee to attend.

Boiselle said he would have stepped down regardless of the controversy surrounding Prince's death.

"I've always felt that the chairmanship should rotate every year," he said. Committee member JoAnn Jordan was elected to the chairmanship after Boiselle stepped down. He will remain a member of the committee.

Boiselle also expressed support for Sayer and said that he saw no factual evidence at this point that would warrant the removal of any teachers or administrators from South Hadley High School.

Investigators from the Northwestern Massachusetts District Attorney's Office found nothing criminal in the actions of adults at the school but did remark that some actions, or inactions, were troublesome.

Sayer told CNN that the committee had yet to meet with investigators but hoped to do so as soon as possible.

"If we learn from here that things should have been done differently," Sayer said, "We will hold staff members accountable."

The state has charged four teenage girls from Prince's school with civil rights violations resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbing a school assembly. Two are also charged with stalking, and one other is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Two boys, also teenagers, have been charged with statutory rape, violation of civil rights with resulting bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly.

- By CNN's Cassie Spodak

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Filed under: Education • Justice • U.S.
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. ShockedObserver

    "Two boys, also teenagers, have been charged with statutory rape, violation of civil rights with resulting bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly." WOW, South Hadley sounds like quite a town to be PROUD of.

    April 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jallen285(YouTube

    Those responsible for the terrible action against that poor girl should be removed from society for life.

    April 15, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NoDoubt

    Excellent. This SHOULD cause a ruckus– bullying has been going on since time began but nowadays it can be SO much more intense with the advent of cell phones and computers. There's no way to get around it.

    April 15, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. smutmonger

    Whether psychological or phisical...................Torture is torture.

    April 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gracie

    Such a reactive response to a awful situation. Wouldn't it have been better to foster a proactive approach to this nonsense at South Hadley? These little venemous snots are essentially terrorists. Where in an adult workplace would this type of abuse and torment be overlooked? But we will subject our children to this abuse on the premise that "kids will be kids" or "teens will be teens". Well terrorists will terrorize if they are allowed to.

    April 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TyHouston

    Amazing how people justaccept bullying since it happened to them or they did it to nerds and wimps ect, teachers did it when they were kids, they just let it happen, they neveryprotect the weak ect...then when kids kill other kids, Columbine anyone? That was kids beaten and not priotected (not black trench coats and video games, that was outcsts beat 10 years by jocks lashing back) we still don't get it. We protect the worthless pretty people and football dorks who can do math and accually have futures in the work place. We praise bullies who throw footballs as always....bravo USA your still praises ugh the cave man, and Barbie the bimbo who bounces her skimpy outfit on the side lines while oppressing the real people who will make the country work after high school.

    April 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pen2life

    It's sad how fingerpointing and hindsight ruins the lives of honest, hard working people

    April 15, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Not Surprised

    I'm so glad that the adults at this meeting could show a shining example of how to act civilized and treat each other with respect and decorum.

    It's the age old hypocritical adage: Do as I say, not as I do.

    April 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Colleen

    I would hope some teachers and administrators lose their jobs over this...they exhibited reckless disregard for that poor girl's suffering...I find them to be serious cowards....letting the kids take the blame as if the adults were not aware...they were aware..for at least a WEEK before her death...I feel so bad for this girl and her family...shame on those teachers....

    April 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. another poster

    What a joke, he was going to bail anyways so he throws himelf on the scarafical table as if it will somehow excuse the school staff from turning their heads and ears. School staff that knew should be held as the teen students, with greater time to do.

    April 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. justice

    I hope when these bullies go to jail they get a nice dose of their own medicine

    April 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ken

    dear NoDoubt...yes there is a way to get around it. Parents can teach their kids that it is wrong and to stop it. Society can have a zero tolerance attitude towards it...you bully, you pay the price. You bully me, you are violating my right to live peacefully.

    April 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kathleen

    I disagree with NoDoubt. There IS a way to get around these issues. Put the parents of the bullies in PRISION where they can serve time along with their "child". The parents did a crap job of raising their kids and should be held responsible.

    April 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Harriet Price

    Failure to act was criminal. The bullying was not always isolated from teachers and administrators.

    April 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Justice!

    They should face justice. The bullying would have continued if this girl didn't take her life this probably would have gone on untill she graduated. these people need to be held accountable. no mercy. as they showed none when they tormented her.

    April 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
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