Parents sue New Jersey school district over 12-year-old daughter's suicide

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Parents sue New Jersey school district over 12-year-old daughter's suicide
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Anthony Johnson has the details on the lawsuit over a 12-year-old girl's suicide.

ROCKAWAY, New Jersey (WABC) -- The parents of a 12-year-old girl who died of an apparent suicide have filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey school district they say did nothing to halt alleged cyber bullying they believe led to her death.

Mallory Grossman's parents say she was subjected to months of relentless bullying via Snapchat and text message from several of her classmates at Copeland Middle School, and that the Rockaway Township School District failed to act despite repeated requests for the principal to intervene.

"I think that she was sad," mom Dianne Grossman said. "I think we saw signs that she wasn't happy, and we were in the process of putting her into private school. But unfortunately, she didn't give us the chance to."

Dianne Grossman said that she's heard from several parents that the girls who bullied her daughter were mean, malicious and nasty.

"I think that we need to understand that dirty looks and snide comments and things like that are important for administrators to pay attention to," Dianne Grossman said. "Just because it's not in writing doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. It's the school's responsibility to look deeper and understand that dirty looks change who you are."

She says they never even filed a bullying report.

"She would bring something to my attention, I would bring it to the school's attention several times, and they dismissed it every time," Dianne Grossman said. "There was a pattern."

Mallory was a cheerleader and gymnast who family says was well-liked and sociable. The family attorney says she was tortured by several girls online.

"The messages were vile and malicious, and we will be disclosing those as the months proceed," attorney Bruce Nagel said.

Dianne Grossman said she also spoke to the parents of one of the girls who was doing the alleged bullying.

"She wasn't going to take ownership," she said. "She wasn't taking responsibility, so I said, 'Please, just have your daughter stop texting my daughter. Please let it stop.' And three minutes later, more text messages came through."

They said they noticed a problem in October, when Mallory's grades began slipping. She told her parents about the bullying, and they say despite their best efforts, nothing changed.

"So as a child, to know that potentially 900 people are talking about you, and you're humiliated, I think it's hard for us to understand how deep that might cut," Dianne Grossman said.

Mallory took her own life in June.

"I think the sadness overpowers the anger," dad Seth Grossman said. "There has to be some accountability."

Superintendent Dr. Greg McGann declined to comment on behalf of the school district.