‘Eat the s*** sandwich’ – NJ Official’s Callous Reactions to Teen’s Suicide Exposed
BERKELEY — A month after the Central Regional High School Superintendent said he was stepping down after downplaying accusations of bullying surrounding a teen student’s suicide, Triantafillos Parlapanides has been on paid administrative leave.
The superintendent caused a furor after the Daily Mail published his inflammatory comments regarding the harrowing death of 14-year-old Adriana Kuch. The backlash pushed the district to hire a $125 public relations firm to respond to messages from media.
Prosecutors, who often don't discuss juvenile cases, announced that four juveniles were charged after a Feb. 1 fight with Adriana Kuch inside Central Regional.
It appears the superintendent repeated inflammatory remarks to numerous reporters who had sought his reaction to the student's death, according to copies of emails that New Jersey 101.5 obtained through the Open Public Records Act.
In emails to reporters, including New Jersey 101.5, the superintendent indicated that Adriana and her attackers had a dispute over a marijuana deal and she came from a broken family.
"The father is very upset and has lost his child so sometimes you have to eat the shit sandwich," his Feb. 8 email to this reporter said.
Were the superintendent's comments 'off the record'?
New Jersey 101.5 never agreed to go off the record with the superintendent.
Our news organization will consider requests to go off the record when circumstances warrant. Generally, an editor must be made aware of the source’s identity and then consider whether the source has a compelling reason for choosing to stay anonymous beyond political or financial self-interest.
A decision to speak "off the record" must be mutual and our reporters seek to be clear with a source on the terms for their discussion.
In this case, even though we had no obligation to honor the superintendent’s request to remain off the record, our organization made the decision at the time to not publish or broadcast his remarks because we believed that his inflammatory accusations required us to verify his information and at the very least seek a response from the teen’s grieving family.
We are now revealing his statements because his words have since been widely reported and were the impetus for his resignation.
In some emails the superintendent referenced the death of the teen's mother, saying she had had died two years ago. In fact, she died in 2016.
Although the Central Regional redacted emails citing privacy concerns, it can be seen that Parlapanides used similar phrasing in his other messages.
The teen is survived by her father, stepmother, siblings and other loved ones, according to her obituary.
A request for comment from the teen’s father, Michael Kuch, was not answered. The family has disputed Parlapanides’ remarks in interviews with other publications.
Parlapanides was still being paid his $195,343 salary a week ago.
"Triantafillos Parlapanides is not functioning as the Superintendent for Central Regional School District. He is on paid administrative leave pursuant to the terms of his employment contract and as required by law," the district said in a written response to New Jersey 101.5.
When were police notified?
In several of his emails, Parlapanides told reporters that police had been called the day of the Feb. 1 incident at the school and that teachers and safety officers had stepped in.
He also said that charges, following such incidents, were considered on a "case by case" basis.