The family of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl — who took her own life after allegedly being cyberbullied by her classmates — is suing the school district, saying Tuesday that administrators were negligent in preventing abuse that led to their daughter's death.
Dianne Grossman said when the school failed to stop the harassment towards her daughter, Mallory, she even tried approaching one alleged bully’s parent, begging the woman to ensure her child would stop.
Her pleas were instantly dismissed, Grossman said.
“I can confidently say I spoke to one of the parents the night before Mallory — before this. And I can tell you that the mother dismissed it, said it was just a big joke, and that I really shouldn’t worry about it,” Grossman said.
It was just one example Grossman gave of the abuse she alleges her daughter was subjected to at Copeland Middle School in Rockaway.
Mallory, a sixth grader at Copeland, took her own life on June 14 after being relentlessly harassed by classmates, Grossman said during a press conference.
During the conference, the Grossmans’ lawyer, Bruce Nagel, said the family is filing an intent to sue Rockaway School District and all the administrators who “ignored months of pleas” from the family.
“[Mallory’s] life tragically ended when her own classmates used this cellphone to drive her into this tragedy,” Nagel said. “For months there were texts, Snapchat and Instagram — she was told she was a loser, she had no friends. She was even told, ‘why don't you kill yourself.’”
Rockaway Township School District Superintendent Greg McGann declined to comment to NBC News about the intended suit.
Grossman said that her daughter began suffering harassment and bullying at school last October.
“It got to the point where she didn’t want to go to school. She had chronic headaches, stomach aches,” Grossman said. “Her grades plummeted. [The school's] focus seemed to be strictly on academics, they weren't concerned with her emotional health.”
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Grossman said her family talked to guidance counselors, teachers, the vice principal and the principal and was told the school was investigating the matter.
“I‘m going to make the assumption that the school did something, but I’m also going to make the assumption, based on where we are today, that they didn’t do enough,” Grossman said.
She said every time she brought her fears to the school, she was dismissed, creating a cycle of inactivity that allowed the bullies to continue “malicious and nasty” behavior.
Nagel said there are “three or four students” that they have identified as Mallory’s bullies, and said the Grossmans are “contemplating taking action against their parents for letting this go on for months.”
The family did not publicly identify the alleged bullies.
In a self-assessment given last year, Copeland Middle School gave itself an “A” grade of 94 percent for how it dealt with bullying within the school, according to NBC New York.
However, Grossman alleged the school hasn’t filed a single Harassment, Intimidation & Bullying (HIB) report about Mallory's tormentors as required by the New Jersey Department of Education.
“New Jersey has some of the strongest laws around bullying, and to this day a report has still not been filed,” Grossman said.
The family plans to file the paperwork declaring their intent to sue this week, and will file the official suit within the next six months.
Morris County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Fred Snowflack confirmed to NBC News that prosecutors are actively investigating the case, but declined to comment on the suit....Read more