Teachers, Apathy, and Phoebe’s Trail of Tears?

“Nearly three months after 15-year-old Prince took her own life after a slew of relentless bullying attacks, the president of the South Hadley teachers union yesterday issued a strident defense of high school staffers, saying many were “shocked” to learn of the extent of the teen’s alleged abuse.

“Some in the media have painted a picture of South Hadley High School as a school out of control – a place where everyone knew of the bullying and no one did anything about it,” Bill O’Neil, head of the South Hadley Education Association and a teacher at the high school, wrote in a letter to the Herald. “That image is just plain wrong.”


They were “SHOCKED!” SHOCKED , Bill says.


Okay, Bill…let’s review.

For some reason, last Fall, Gus Sayer and his administrative Goodfellas decide to spend money to call in a Bullying expert. Now, maybe cash was just overflowing the school coffers there in South Hadley, and the administration just couldn’t think of any other way to spend it…but if not, logical minds might infer you all knew you had a culture of Bullying in the school. Something spurred that decision.

That said…the calling in of a professional Bullying expert might have been your first clue, Bill.

WE KNOW you knew you had a problem.

Moving right along…into this known culture of Bullying…now comes a transfer student from another country…whose family alerts the administration that she might be susceptible to….guess what… Bullying!  You know…the problem you just sought help for! Are lights flashing now?  Red alert!  Red alert!

“South Hadley High has a problem we know about and now here comes a kid VULNERABLE to just that problem! All hands on deck!  Red Alert!”


Assuming, the Administration, in a district with a Bullying problem WOULD DO the responsible thing and offer this child an increased level of observation…logical minds might infer the staff and faculty got a heads up here.  I mean this is like someone with a nut allergy being forced to work in a peanut butter factory. Surely, word was put out to be aware of Phoebe?

If it was, that was your second clue.

If not, Gus Sayer and his Principal are unfathomable, despicable failures at their jobs.

But even if they were so irresponsible to keep the faculty unaware…logical minds would assume that good teachers have quality relationships, communication, and interactions with the kids they teach. Are you saying, Bill,  that South Hadley teachers could not connect the dots? Are you saying they could watch Phoebe shoved and knocked about in the halls, shouted at in class, surrounded in the cafeteria and library. hounded, whispered about, her pictures defaced…and none of you ONCE saw a pattern? None of you connected the reports that WERE made and had concern? None of you cared enough to ask questions, share information with other faculty or with students or get involved for this child?

Your students successfully hid a campaign of cruelty in plain sight among the entire South Hadley staff for months?


How disinterested are you people?

If not disinterested…so many clues for you here.

Or are you saying , Bill, that South Hadley teachers have an “Eyes Wide Shut” approach to their professional obligations to their students? Because, otherwise…every incident…reported or just observed… as they continued to be inflicted on the same particular child…should have been an avalanche of clues…to any teacher that cared.

But YOU say…you were all…clueless. Unaware. Know-nothings.

“Meanness” ( your word) is not just an overt act…it is also the imposition of apathy. Adults, teachers, authority figures …turning a child away time after time, turning their eyes away…making the child cope and carry that cruelty all on her own.

THAT is the burden , Bill, that the apathetic staff and faculty of South Hadley High appears to have put on Phoebe…on a child whose family notified YOU…was vulnerable. If indeed , it is proven that she spent her last day at SHHS…essentially walking her own trail of tears, even seeking out the school nurse…and not one teacher or staff member stepped up to show her any support..or give her any hope for her future…then THAT should be answered for.

If it is shown, Phoebe carried your burden of apathy…you can be sure we will require you to carry the burden of accountability.


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