The father of a New York City teen who drowned on a class trip received a call from the school last week, insensitively informing Jonas Pierre of his son’s poor attendance.
“I think, why are you calling, why are you telling me this,” Pierre said. “Don’t you know my son is dead?”
The 16-year-old, Jean Fritz Pierre, was trying to cool off after a school sponsored hike and drowned in the Hessian Lake in Hudson Valley. His was caught under a current and drowned 14 feet below the surface.
Despite warnings not to enter the lake, he and a classmate decided to go swimming anyway.
The supervisors of the trip were cleared of wrongdoing and his death was cited as accidental.
“Maybe the school doesn’t think it’s important, but it’s important to me,” Pierre said. “I don’t think I could ever get another son like him.”
The Education Department has issued a public statement of apology to Pierre and his family for any pain and suffering the school has caused them. The department has also vowed to check all data systems so that similar calls are no longer received.
However, Pierre believes the school merely added “insult to injury” and plans to proceed with a lawsuit he filed in September against the Department of Education and the City of New York.
The complaint faults school supervisors for negligent conduct for permitting a ninth grade student to swim in a lake known to have a dangerous undertow.
Pierre plans to sue for $5 million.