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Dept. of Education Apologizes For Truancy Calls to Dead Teen's Family

By Sonja Sharp | September 26, 2013 4:42pm
 Jean Pierre Fritz, 16, a student at Brooklyn International High School, died Monday while on a class trip to Bear Mountain.
Boy Drowns On Class Trip to Bear Mountain
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NEW YORK CITY — The Department of Education apologized for a series of attendance calls that have plagued a grieving Brooklyn father since his son died on a class trip this spring — a mistake Mayor Michael Bloomberg said might be attributable to bureaucracy. 

“We apologize for any pain or suffering this may have caused the family and are checking all data systems to ensure that the family doesn't receive these calls anymore," DOE spokeswoman Erin Hughes said in an email Thursday, hours after a DNAinfo New York story revealed the mistake. 

Grieving dad Jonas Pierre had been bombarded with phone calls and letters from Prospect Heights' International HS asking about the whereabouts of his 16-year-old son Jean Fritz Pierre, who drowned in Hessian Lake during a June 24 class trip to Bear Mountain.

"It makes me very sad," Pierre said about the calls."They called me for a meeting. It's one of those things you have every year, and this year you don't have it — to be reminded of that hurts you," he said.

The DOE apology came on the heels of a brief statement by the mayor, who blamed any error on "bureaucracy."

"We have a million, one hundred thousands kids, or something like that. I'm sure there are errors in the bureaucracy," Bloomberg said at an unrelated press conference on Thursday. "If it's the case, and I don’t know, it's a bureaucratic error."

On Tuesday, the New York City School District's Special Investigator released a report clearing Department of Education employees of responsibility in the tragedy, a conclusion that baffled Jonas Pierre.

"You give me back my son dead and you say it's not your fault? It's insane!" Pierre said. "I gave these people my son and they gave me back a body."