December 3, 2009
ST. GERTRUDE THE GREAT SCHOOL:
A litany of reported instances of abuse of discretion and bad judgment
What goes on at SGG?
The following report documents the habitual pattern of erratic and questionable administrative behavior well-known to teachers and students of St. Gertrude the Great School. Reading through this litany of abuse, it becomes evident to even the casual reader that anyone involved in the administration of this school would have had a moral obligation to bring these instances to the attention of the pastor and the school chaplain for immediate redress. That the latter, when alerted to the dangers, chose to do nothing—and that they chose to do nothing for so long—is surely indicative of a frame of mind which can at best be classed as suspicious, as the Lotarskis are defended and protected to the detriment of the schoolchildren, the people of the parish, and in fact the parish itself.
For each instance of these alleged abuses, we are ready to produce at least one witness able to substantiate the claim. Meanwhile, we have withheld names for reasons of prudence, and in the interests of protecting the innocent.
1. The Principal constantly refers to his less favored students as retards, spoiled brats, and other derogatory names, and in the case of girls, tarts and even sluts. Sometimes he does this in public, humiliating the children. The younger children with learning disabilities suffer especially from being constantly referred to as "retards."
2. The Principal's wife treats her kindergarten class in similar fashion, often holding up certain children to public ridicule and making them cry. The children are afraid of her: some have been known to wet themselves before they go to school. One little boy told his mother: "My teacher hates me."
3. The Principal often reprimands students for following the instructions of other teachers, sometimes even in front of the teacher concerned. This of course undermines the authority of that teacher and leads to a breakdown in discipline.
4. The Principal's wife treats the other teachers as her subordinates. By virtue of being married to the Principal, she considers it her right to reprimand teachers, even in front of their students. Often she would enter into other teachers' classrooms without knocking, interrupting class in order to reprimand students without any reference to the teacher present. Countless times, the Principal's wife has barged into a teacher's classroom in the middle of prayers, interrupting the prayers with a wave of her hand in order to address students who have displeased her.
5. On one occasion, the Principal angrily emptied the bag of a student, and threw out in the trash all the equipment his parents had provided for the beginning of the school year. This public humiliation resulted in the parents withdrawing their child from the school.
6. The Principal forcibly prevented a seventh grade student from leaving church during Mass to go the bathroom. The resulting accident was emotionally traumatic for the student in question, and resulted in the family withdrawing their children from the school.
7. The Principal screamed at a high school girl and forced her to take out a pair of earrings while she was volunteering one Saturday during the summer vacation to help clean the church. He yelled at her that it was a school rule that she was not allowed to wear earrings while she was registered as a student. (Actually, there is no such rule).
8. The Principal issued a uniform violation to a high school girl for wearing a headband that he described as "immodest".
9. The Principal issued a uniform violation to a high school girl for having her hair in the wrong place, even after she had corrected her hairstyle and had it approved by one of the women teachers.
10. The Principal repeatedly referred to one seventh grade boy as a liar, on one occasion reporting him to Fr. Cekada for lying in a particular instance. In fact, the boy had not lied, and the Principal had unquestioningly believed the word of his own son before this more truthful student.
11. The Principal screamed at a seventh grader and publicly humiliated him for allegedly not cleaning a thurible after Benediction. The boy's father checked with the head MC, and was told the thurible was cleaned perfectly. The Principal, however, continued his dramatic and uncontrolled tantrum. The continuous abuse of this boy and his siblings eventually provided the family with no alternative but to withdraw their children from the school.
12. The Principal forcibly stopped a teacher from taking a sick first grade student out of church on the first day of school this year. He stepped in the way of the teacher and argued with her, forcing her to return to her pew, and humiliating her by publicly overriding her authority. The sick child was made to remain next to the Principal for the remainder of the Mass.
13. At the encouragement of Bishop Dolan, a first grader who had expressed interest in a vocation to the priesthood, was permitted regularly to come to the sacristy before the school Mass to help the priest vest for Mass. When his teacher left him in the sacristy as usual one day last October, the Principal waited for the teacher to leave, then screamed at the child to leave the sacristy and go back to his pew. Unaware of the situation, the newly ordained priest assigned to St. Gertrude's brought him back to the sacristy, whereupon the Principal lost his temper, overriding the new priest, and screaming at the little boy to return to his pew as he had been told. The little boy was of course reduced to tears, and as a result, has shown no further interest in what had appeared to be the seed of a vocation.
14. The Principal shouted loudly at a first grade girl who was on her way to Confession. He told her she didn't need to go to Confession, as she had recently gone, and forced her to return to her classroom.
15. The Principal once administered corporal punishment to a seventh grade boy in the presence of witnesses, during which punishment he actually broke a paddle over the boy's back. While administering the punishment, he was seen to be in a rage, sweating profusely, trembling, and red in the face.
16. Meanwhile, the Principal makes no attempt to curb his own children's lack of discipline. See examples 17-27 below.
17. Profanities, obscenities, foul language, talk of a sexually explicit nature, obscene hand gestures have all been practiced regularly by the sons of the Principal in front of other students, not only in high school, but even in front of the grade schoolers. One former student who had been in public school, stated that she had never met any boys as degraded and perverse as the sons of the Principal of St. Gertrude the Great School.
18. When one family attempted to have their son stay at the Lotarski house in order to receive an education at SGG, the boy was so upset at the mistreatment given him by the Lotarski parents and the constant and open use of the F word by the Lotarski children in the home that the parents had to pull him from the school altogether.
19. Smoking on school grounds by one of the Principal's sons is permitted and even encouraged by the Principal and Fr. Cekada.
20. One of the Principal's sons has boasted about smoking weed to a parishioner, and having a stash of marijuana in his basement. He has boasted to kindergarteners about being "high".
21. The Principal's sons show their contempt for the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and for the Sacred Liturgy by constantly chewing gum in the church, even in the sanctuary and while serving Mass.
22. Students have watched inappropriate videos (including of animal torture) in the Principal's office on his computer. One of the sons of the Principal e-mailed a link to a pornographic video to one of the parishioners. This video is so bad that we cannot describe the contents here.
23. One of the Principal's sons has continually bullied other students in the school. Physical beatings have been witnessed, and there has been a general underlying fear of the Lotarski boys among the younger students. When the school had an African student, one of the sons of the Principal regularly addressed him and referred to him by the N- word.
24. One of the Principal's sons has attempted several times to intimidate even adults in school and in church, using sudden menacing actions designed to make the adult think he or she was in physical danger.
25. One of the Principal's sons has used profanities including the F word even against members of the faculty and clergy. This has been done in front of other students, on one occasion in front of first graders.
26. On one occasion, aggressive confrontation by one of the Principal's sons against a teacher was actually rewarded by the Principal, Bishop Dolan and Fr. Cekada by firing the teacher. Lies were then deliberately spread by Fr. Cekada, the school chaplain, to make it appear as though the teacher had provoked the student.
27. Even in the home, the Principal has regularly mistreated his own children. This summer he beat his 23-year-old daughter black and blue with a fly swatter, simply for dating a boy from Immaculate Conception Church (a local sedevacantist church run by Rev. William Jenkins and Rev. Joseph Greenwell of the SSPV). He has beaten one of his sons so much that the boy finally threatened to call the police and social services on his father if he ever touched him again. Since then, the boy has been pretty much left to his own devices, and receives little if any discipline in the home.
28. The resulting lack of discipline in the Lotarski home since about last Easter has left the sons of the Principal free to do whatever they want. It has become common knowledge among the student population that the boys go out in the middle of the night to do drugs and commit acts of fornication.
29. Among the perks that the church provided to the Principal at the parishioners' expense was membership of the local YMCA, which has a gym and swimming pool. On several occasions, the school chaplain Fr. Cekada invited the teenage sons of the Principal to go swimming with him. When they went with him, according to the account of the boys themselves, they were made to feel very uncomfortable when Fr. Cekada would remain with them while they changed, and even more so when he stripped himself naked, exposing himself in front of them.
While many of these abuses, if taken individually, could be overlooked as someone just having a bad day, it is in the "constant inconsistency" of behavior, especially in the application of justice, where the problem lies. The Principal treated his own children differently, and with a wholly different standard of justice, from all the other children. He treated boys better than girls. He certainly treated the students he liked far differently from the rest of the "sluts" and "retards".
The teachers of St. Gertrude the Great School were cordially invited by Bishop Dolan to bring these matters to his attention. Indeed Fr. Ramolla had ongoing instructions from the Bishop to bring him daily reports on the situation in the school. And so they came, priest and teachers alike, bringing most if not all of these harrowing tales of abuse to the feet of their caring pastor. And the Bishop gathered his information— not, as they thought, about the mistreatment of the children, or the uncontrolled behavior of the Principal and his family. Not so. On hearing these stories, Bishop Dolan would cluck sympathetically, muttering words like "intolerable", and "unbearable", but meanwhile, making careful mental notes on the disposition of those who brought him the bad news. He would then disappear for a while to "chat" with his associate, Fr. Cekada, who would then scurry around, first to warn the Principal about the person complaining, and then rushing to that person to dispute, excuse, or simply deny the facts of the case.
This pattern of behavior has been observed umpteen times over the past decades. It has been followed with janitors and ushers, organists and sacristans, parents and teachers, —and even priests. It may even have happened to you. And let's be quite clear, whenever during these many years it ever became evident that the behavior of the Principal or his children was truly inexcusable and that the whistle-blower could not be placated, the pattern would shift towards finding a way of terminating the source of the complaint. Thus, time after time, the Principal and his family were protected, always at the expense of the one seeking redress. This poor person always ends up either fired from his job, or expelled from the parish, in some cases both. After that they are either expunged from the living memory of the remaining parishioners, with a hearty "Goodbye, dear friends!" in the Sunday bulletin; or if they won't lie down and die, they are labeled "mentally ill", a diagnosis that has now been used so many times that even the most blindly loyal and sycophantic followers of Bishop Dolan grimace cynically when they hear it.
Who will be next? Another teacher? A choir member? A loyal parishioner? Perhaps you?
For no matter what their crime, the Principal and his family must be protected at all costs to the parish. Even, it seems now, at the very cost of the parish itself. When one of the teachers asked him how many more children's souls would be lost before he would act against the Principal, Fr. Cekada merely shrugged his shoulders and replied coldly: "Oh, don't worry about that. People have a way of having more children." And surely, this attitude, where our children are treated by our priests as nothing more than a commodity, is the biggest abuse of all.