The family of Phoebe Prince, the Irish teenager who committed suicide after a prolonged campaign of bullying, received $225,000 in a settlement from the town of South Hadley in Boston, after they agreed not to sue the girl’s school district, according to court documents released this week.
The disclosure comes four days after a Hampshire Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Slate reporter, Emily Bazelon, who filed a lawsuit demanding the town release the records. Town officials had fought the request as they said it violated a confidentiality agreement with Prince’s family.
Prince’s mother, Anne O’Brien, settled with the Massachusetts town in October 2010 as she wanted to avoid a trial, her brother Edward told the Boston Globe.
“My sister settled because she wanted this to stop," he said, adding, “She needed to find some peace."
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Following the 15-year-old’s suicide in January 2010, her parents filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in July, alleging that the South Hadley public school system had failed to protect their daughter from discrimination.
The complaint accused the district of creating an “intimidating, hostile, and sexually offensive educational environment.” The Prince family withdrew the complaint in November 2010 after they settled with the town. However, the details were not released to the public until the Slate editor took court action against the town.
On December 23, Judge Mary-Lou Rup ordered the town to release the settlement details.
William Newman, director of the ACLU’s Western Massachusetts Legal Office who represented Bazelon, described it as a victory for the public.
“The public has a right to know this information,’’ he said.
“The ACLU brought this lawsuit on behalf of Emily in order to vindicate that right. I think the court’s decision is a testament to the importance of transparency in the government."
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