After NJ teen’s online bullying suicide, family seeks punishment for school officials
🔷 Family of late teen suing school, former superintendent
🔷 Adriana Kuch jumped in school, cyberbullied days before suicide
🔷 Charges were filed against other teens for bullying
BERKELEY — A year after the suicide of a 14-year-old who was assaulted and tormented on social media, her family has filed a lawsuit against the school district accusing administrators of negligence.
The suit, which seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, was filed in Ocean County Superior Court against the Central Regional High School Board of Education and then-superintendent of schools Triantafillos Parlapanides.
Attorney William Krais said that the family is seeking justice for Adriana Kuch by punishing the conduct of school officials, who he said "knew they had a bullying problem."
Also named as defendants are the principal, two assistant principals and anti-bullying specialists, as well as the anti-bullying coordinator and other staff and administrators.
In addition to negligence and punitive damages, the following charges are leveled against Parlapanides and the Board of Education:
🔹 Invasion of privacy
🔹 Negligent infliction of emotional distress
🔹 Intentional infliction of emotional distress
The lawsuit says Kuch’s surviving family suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the district's negligence.
In response to a request for comment on Monday, officials for the Central Regional School District said they not yet been served with a copy of the complaint and as such, had "not yet had an opportunity to review it."
"Further, since this would be a matter involving litigation, the Board will be limited in what it can comment on publicly," a spokesman for the district added.
🔷 Kuch was attacked, bullied days before suicide
The lawsuit details the in-school incident on Feb. 1, 2023, when Kuch was physically assaulted by several students in a hallway. The incident was recorded by several students' cell phones and then shared online.
“As a direct and proximate result of the inadequate, untimely, cursory, and inappropriate investigation of this attack by the Central Regional School District administrators, including all defendants herein, the attackers were permitted to post video of the attack, accompanied by devastating commentary, to social media sites for all to see, including Adriana,” the complaint says.
The teen suffered physical injuries, including cuts and bruising to her head, face, body and legs — as well as “emotional distress, humiliation, and embarrassment” from the subsequent social media posts.
Within the next day and a half, Adriana died by suicide by hanging herself in her family home.
‘Eat the s*** sandwich’ – Parlapanides emails after teen suicide
Parlapanides caused global headlines by sending news reporters inflammatory comments regarding the harrowing death of Kuch.
The lawsuit includes the extensive comments sent by Parlapanides, using his school email account, with various reporters, including to New Jersey 101.5, speculating about personal and private circumstances in the Kuch family.
Comments sent to multiple reporters by Parlapanides were “cruel, malicious, callous, insensitive, and entirely false,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit quoted Parlapanides’ email response to New Jersey 101.5 on Feb. 8, 2023, which said, “The mom killed herself two years ago. The girls that assaulted her were friends with her but thought she had laced the marijuana they had smoked together. The father is very upset and has lost his child so sometimes you just have to eat the s**t sandwich.”
Calling such statements “highly offensive,” the suit said “Parlapanides knew that these matters, which he publicized through his emails to reporters, were false and would place plaintiffs Michael Kuch, Sr., and Sarah Kuch in a false light, and/or he acted with reckless disregard for the truth.”
In the weeks that followed, the community expressed concern and anger over how the district had handled Kuch’s situation, including a crowd of hundreds at a Board of Education meeting at Central Regional High School.
In addition, statements regarding Adriana Kuch’s alleged drug use, need for mental health counseling, offers of support to the Kuch family and any response by the Kuch family to offers are protected by The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the complaint points out.
NJ mom sues over ‘persistent bullying’ before child’s in-school suicide
Just days after Adriana Kuch���s death, a younger girl took her own life inside her school.
Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez, 11, was found unresponsive on Feb. 6 at F. W. Holbein School in Mount Holly, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said at the time.
The sixth grader was pronounced dead, two days later.
In November, Felicia’s mother, Elaina LoAlbo filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against the Mount Holly school district on behalf of her daughter, saying she had been the victim of an “extended, persistent period of bullying” by other students.
NJ mom behind ‘Mallory’s Law’ says bullying is an epidemic
In 2017, 12-year-old Mallory Grossman of Rockaway Township died by suicide after the middle school student had suffered persistent cyberbullying.
Tireless advocacy in her memory sparked state legislation known as “Mallory’s Law."
Dianne and Seth Grossman also sued the Rockaway school district for inaction in the pattern of bullying.
That suit ended in August with a settlement of $9.1 million.
In settling, the district did not admit wrongdoing. School officials had previously called allegations of ignoring the Grossman family or failing to address bullying "categorically false.”
“I think that it’s time for the schools to understand that we have an epidemic on our hands,” Dianne Grossman said in a CNN interview this summer.
“I think it’s time for the schools to enforce their policies and if they don’t have policies — now’s the time to write those policies.”
Anyone in crisis and in need of immediate help can text or dial 988 or call the New Jersey Suicide Prevention Hopeline at 1-855-654-6735.
There also is a chat option on the website.
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