BAYVILLE, N.J. (PIX11) — The auditorium of Central Regional High School in Bayville, New Jersey, was overflowing with angry parents and students Thursday night during the district’s regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting.
Students past and present bravely shared their bullying stories, in the wake of Adriana Kuch’s suicide.
“I’ve been bullied every single day since I’ve been at this school, since seventh grade,” said student Milo Lugo.
“I was bullied out of this school, not only by students but teachers,” said former student Sydney Mohel.
Student Echo McNichols tearfully shared her story as well. “Last year, I was bullied so awfully that I couldn’t bring myself to school,” said McNichols. “I locked myself in my room and I begged not to go. The school’s solution was for me to switch classes, to turn my schedule upside down in the middle of the year to get away from these kids, or to just suck it up.”
Fourteen-year-old Adriana Kuch died by suicide on Feb. 3, just two days after being attacked in a hallway of Central Regional. Video of the attack circulated over social media.
“[Adriana] already reported numerous reports about how she was being bullied, and you guys just sat there and did nothing,” said Hailie Engesser, addressing the Board of Education. Engesser counted Kuch as her best friend.
Parents also spoke about bullying being an unchecked problem in the district for decades, and they pointed the finger at teachers, too.
“We have a problem with the teachers with the kids, just as much as we have with the kids being bullied by their classmates,” said parent Melissa Hickey.
“For months, years, we’ve been talking about the same thing with no results,” said parent Kelly Edwards.
Four female students are now criminally charged in Kuch’s death, and Superintendent Triantafillow Parlapanides resigned.
Acting Superintendent Dr. Douglas Corbett said the district is reviewing its bullying policies, but noted that they are largely determined by the state.
“Those policies are dictated, they are very prescriptive by the state,” Corbett said during Thursday night’s meeting. “However, we will review them, and if there’s any flexibility in any of that, we have to explore that. There’s no place in schools for bullying. We can all agree on that.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) . It is a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within your state.