Source: NY Daily News
Before he took his own life, Daniel Fitzpatrick, taunted and bullied, wrote a final, heartbreaking letter lamenting that nearly no one tried to help him.
The 13-year-old Staten Island boy, mercilessly badgered over his weight, grades and his innocent heart, pleaded to his school for help.
But teacher after teacher at Holy Angels Catholic Academy — the principal, too — turned a deaf ear, refusing to intervene, he said in the letter that was never sent.
Finally, overwhelmed by the torment, Daniel hanged himself, his family said.
He was found dead late Thursday by his older sister in the attic of his family home, a belt wrapped around his neck.
“I gave up,” the teen scrawled on two sides of a single sheet of paper. “The teachers . . . they didn’t do anything,” he said, pouring his heart onto the page.
Daniel’s devastated parents shared the letter exclusively with the Daily News Friday, saying he wrote it in early July so someone would be “held accountable.”
It still hadn’t been sent as of Friday.
“My son shouldn’t have to die to be heard,” Daniel’s distraught mom Maureen Fitzpatrick told The News in an exclusive interview Friday. “There’s something wrong with the adults in authority positions when kids can’t go to them for help.”
“No parent is supposed to bury their child,” she said.
Described by his family as a sensitive softie who covered his eyes and ears during the R-rated movie “Deadpool,” Daniel was discovered hanging in the attic inside his family’s Davis Ave. home in West Brighton about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
His 17-year-old sister Kristen found him with the belt around his neck and called for help, but it was too late.
She said Daniel was due to start at Brooklyn’s Xaverian High School in the fall but wanted to speak up to make sure some action would be taken.
“Mom I want them to know what they did to me and how I feel,” Maureen recalled her son telling her. “I want them to hear my story.”
The letter was written after the school returned the family’s $100 re-registration fee for Daniel on June 30. The school had recommended Daniel repeat seventh grade — at another school.
Dad Daniel Fitzpatrick, a 45-year-old Con Ed employee, said the principal told him she didn’t think Holy Angels would be a “good environment” for Daniel to be a grade behind, that it might “damage his psyche.”
He considered that a slap in the face since the family believes Daniel’s bullying at the hands of classmates caused his academic slide.
“His grades went from passing to the low 40s and 60s,” the dad told The News. “His confidence was completely shattered.”
Daniel wrote in his letter that he felt tormented by a group of five boys who he said bullied him relentlessly.
“They did it constantly,” he wrote. “I ended up fighting (one boy) and got a fractured pinkie.”
His parents said the boys targeted him during gym class, often throwing balls at him. A teacher also embarrassed Daniel by calling him “lazy” in front of the class, the boy’s father alleged.
Kristen, the youngest of Daniel’s three older sisters, also attended Holy Angels in Bay Ridge and said the teacher was known for humiliating students.
He would hold up tests and papers at school dismissal, publicly displaying students’ scores to embarrass those who did poorly, she said.
“If one person didn’t like you, no one liked you,” she said. “Danny was always left out. He used to come up to me and ask me to get kids to play with him. The other kids would say they thought he was weird.”
His mother said Daniel wasn’t ready to grow up.
“He just wanted to be a kid,” Maureen Fitzpatrick said. “He didn’t want to be involved in things that were too mature for him.”
The family said that at one point, Holy Angels had social workers investigate them. Daniel’s parents voluntarily submitted to substance testing and passed, they said.
The family said they and Daniel brought his concerns directly to school administrators but received no support.
At the door of Principal Rosemarie McGoldrick’s Queens home, a man who identified himself as her husband told The News she was at school. But no one was at the school late Friday afternoon, and on a second trip to the principal’s home no one answered the door.
Daniel said only one teacher helped him cope, but it wasn’t enough.
“I told all the teachers. Nothing except one Ms. D’Alora. She was the nicest teacher ever she understood,” he wrote.
Alexa d’Alora, an English and religious studies teacher at the school who was also Daniel’s homeroom teacher, declined to speak when reached by The News.
“Please. Please. This is hard,” she said before turning away and walking to her car.
A spokeswoman for the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese could not confirm the bullying complaints Friday.
“In light of this tragedy we are reexamining all bullying prevention policies and training,” spokeswoman Carolyn Erstad said. “The principal, teachers, and staff of Holy Angels Catholic Academy are heartbroken over the loss of Danny Fitzpatrick. We take the issue of bullying very seriously and address every incident that is brought to our attention.”
The Fitzpatrick family believes Holy Angels staff pushed Daniel out of the school.
“Danny said that he was afraid of his teachers,” his mom said. “He felt like the whole school knew what was going on and was laughing behind his back. They humiliated him.”
Maureen said the school tried to sweep the problem under the rug to “preserve their image.”
“My son is not supposed to be dead,” she said, choking back tears Friday. “My son is supposed to be playing football. My son is supposed to be home with his family.”