(NewsNation) — Current and former students of Central Regional High School are speaking out following the death of Adriana Kuch, a 14-year-old student at the New Jersey school who killed herself after a video of her being bullied and beaten was posted online.
Kuch’s family says the school administration did nothing to help the teenager, a sentiment shared by former students of the high school, including Deryn Arnold.
She said Tuesday on NewsNation’s “CUOMO” that she was the target of harassment numerous times, including when she was thrown down a stairwell and punched in the face.
“They didn’t do anything,” Arnold said of the school administration. “I tried to go to (the) guidance (counselor), they wouldn’t listen; they told me that I must be instigating if it hasn’t stopped. … The superintendent couldn’t have cared less.”
Kuch died Feb. 3, two days after she was assaulted by a group of students in a hallway. Footage of the incident was posted online and shows the students punching and kicking Kuch.
Four students were suspended and have been criminally charged. The school superintendent, Dr. Triantafillos Parlapanides, resigned, but not before he blamed Kuch’s suicide on her family, according to reporting by the New York Post.
The district said in a statement that it “is evaluating all current and past allegations of bullying.”
Since Kuch’s death, more students at the high school have forward with accusations of bullying.
Sophomore Olivia O’Dea told CBS New York she experienced “physical assault” and “humiliation” when she was a freshman last year. O’Dea now attends another district, and her mother has filed a lawsuit against Central Regional.
Another sophomore, Sarah Gibson, told told NBC Today she’s filed “about seven” bullying or harassment reports, with no resolution. A friend of Kuch also told NBC Today that bullying is an “everyday occurrence” and that administrators are generally dismissive when reports are made.
That’s how Daniel Keiser remembers his time at the high school. He taught there for roughly 20 years and says his own daughter was the subject of bullying.
“It’s amazing to me that they haven’t made any strides to conquer this problem since I’ve been there,” Keiser said. “The same problems are still going on as when I was there.”
He claims there was a “ringleader” who “gathered a posse” around his daughter.
“(They) made life pretty horrible for her the time she was there,” Keiser said.
Despite several meetings with parents and other administrators, Keiser said only one of the vice principals helped out. It was only on the day of his daughter’s graduation that Keiser believes any attempts were made to warn students against bullying or harassment.
To this day, Arnold says, she wears her hair in a ponytail because another student cut it when she was at Central Regional, inflicting a deep psychological toll. To stop it, Arnold says the adults need to be held accountable.
“It’s the corrupt administration that is the real issue going on here,” she said. “It is the students, but they’re not even asked to stop. They pull you into a room with them and have you apologize to each other. Well, guess what, it’s not preschool anymore. She didn’t take my block, she threw me down a stairwell.”
If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of self-harm, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by dialing 988.