Officials at the Central Regional School District in Ocean County, NJ, are bracing for howls of outrage today in their first school board meeting since bullied teen student Adriana Kuch killed herself earlier this month.
The board will hold a moment of silence for the 14-year-old girl – who died by suicide Feb. 3 after a video of her attack was shared on social media – and appoint an acting superintendent to replace Triantafillos Parlapanides, who resigned last week after intense backlash to his attempts to shift blame for Kuch’s death to her own family.
Adriana’s tragic story has sparked a reckoning in the 1,600-student district, with many accusing officials of turning a blind eye to rampant bullying over the years.
Dozens of students staged a walkout last Friday to protest the district’s failure to act, and former pupils, parents and faculty have publicly shared similarly violent and humiliating stories since her death.
“There were days where I would break up three fights before homeroom even started,” Daniel Keiser, a former staffer who worked at the high school for two decades, recalled in a recent online posting.
“As a teacher there and a parent there who dealt with intense bullying, we would often plead with administration to get things under control, and only one of them ever tried … They were notorious for brushing things under the carpet.”
CeCe Lane, a former student, wrote that teachers watched from the locker-room doors as she was once bullied and nearly attacked by another girl in the gym at the school in Bayville, about 10 minutes southeast of Toms River.
“They did not bother to help,” Lane said. “I know plenty of people that got bullied, fought, and humiliated, the school always looked the other way.”
Former student Olivia O’Dea, whose family has sued the district after she was attacked by two students in January 2022, told CBS2 this week that she “went through physical assault in the same school when I was a freshman, and the humiliation, the bullying.”
“It’s a travesty that [the bullying is] continuing,” Olivia’s mother, Rachael O’Dea, told NJ Advance Media after Adriana’s death.
The four girls involved in the Kuch assault initially evaded punishment. But they have since been charged with various offenses, including aggravated assault.
The Ocean County prosecutor also met with school officials last week to discuss the school’s alleged failure to properly handle Adriana’s beat-down.
William A. Krais, the attorney representing the Kuch family, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Berkeley Township officials have reportedly promised to enforce the high school’s zero-tolerance bullying policy. But Kuch’s father, Michael, said last week he won’t be satisfied until the entire district has been overhauled.
“I want that entire administration gone,” he told The Post on Saturday.
Adriana’s sister-in-law, Jennifer Ferro, added, “We just want the school to start changing and taking accountability.”
Kuch, of Bayville, was found dead at home two days after the slickening Feb. 1 assault, police said.
A video of the attack showed several students hitting the teen with a water bottle as she walked in the high school hallways with her boyfriend. The recording also showed assailants punching, kicking and pulling her hair while others laughed.
“Getting hit with a water bottle didn’t hurt Adriana, what hurt her was the embarrassment and humiliation, they just kept coming at her,” Michae Kuch later said.
Before his resignation, former superintendent Parlapanides said school officials didn’t call the police after the assault because school policy didn’t demand it.
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