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A bullied N.J. student died by suicide. Now, the superintendent has resigned

Former Central Regional School District Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides, left, and Board of Education President Louis Tuminaro listen to speakers at a March 17, 2022 board meeting.
Jean Mikle
/
USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Co
Former Central Regional School District Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides, left, and Board of Education President Louis Tuminaro listen to speakers at a March 17, 2022 board meeting.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 9-8-8, or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.


A New Jersey superintendent has resigned after telling a news outlet personal information about a 14-year-old high school student who died by suicide earlier this month.

Adriana Kuch died on Feb. 3, just days after she was beaten up in school by fellow students while others recorded the attack on video, her family says.

The freshman's death sparked a wave of protests in the Central Regional School District along the Jersey Shore. It also spurred questions about the district's response, and whether the administration had done enough to prevent bullying.

Her father, Michael Kuch, has said on social media and in media interviews that bullying led his daughter to take her own life. He blamed school administrators for not doing enough to prevent abusive behavior.

"They're absolutely refusing to protect our children," Kuch told NBC New York. "I mean, why would anybody want to send their kids there?"

Adriana Kuch was born in Toledo, Ohio, and her family moved around often because Kuch's father was in the Army. They relocated to Bayville, N.J., seven years ago. Kuch was a nature lover who adored animals, according to her family. She also enjoyed helping children with disabilities, jogging with her brothers and other outdoor activities.

Superintendent resigns shortly after comments to the press

On Friday, Central Regional School District Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said in an email to the Daily Mailthat Kuch had been offered drugs counseling at the school, but that her father had refused the school's services.

One day later, the district's Board of Education announced it had accepted Parlapanides' resignation.

Michael Kuch previously told the Daily Mail that he and his wife had sought help from the school because Adriana had been smoking marijuana with a vape pen.

"I don't know how to respond to this insane deflection," Kuch told the newspaper in response to Parlapanides' emails.

A statement on the district's website said the "Central Regional family continues to mourn the loss of one of our children" and that "we are all praying for the family and loved ones and our entire community."

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office has charged four juveniles in the case – one with aggravated assault, two with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and one with harassment. All four juveniles and their guardians were served with copies of their complaints and released pending future court appearances.

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer told NPR in an email that he spoke with students protesting at the school last week and offered to sit down with them to discuss their concerns. Billhimer also said he's met with school district officials — including Parlapanides before he resigned — to discuss how the district can better respond to incidents at the school and offer programming and services that meet the needs of students.

On Saturday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife offered their condolences to Kuch's friends and family. "Every student should feel safe and supported no matter where they are," Murphy said.

The Central Regional School District announced it is now evaluating all current and past allegations of bullying and that it contacted the state Department of Education for a review of its anti-bullying policies.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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