The mother of a 12-year-old girl who took her own life has told the headteacher he is as much to blame as the child’s tormentors.
For an entire school year, Mallory Grossman had to endure endless bullying on social media and in the school hallways by classmates who reportedly asked her ‘When are you going to kill yourself?’.
Last year in June she did, now her mother Dianne is taking the whole school to task for not doing enough to help her daughter. She has specifically called out the school principal who ‘humiliated’ Mallory when she came asking for help.
Mallory tragically took her own life at the family’s home in Rockaway. Last Tuesday her parents filed a lawsuit for wrongful death against the principal, Rockaway Township, the board of education and various school officials in Morris County Superior Court.
Speaking to the New York Post, Dianne said:
The story isn’t about Mallory. It’s about everybody’s Mallory. It’s about everybody’s niece and their nephew and their grandchildren.
She took particular issue with Alfonso Gonnella, Mallory’s principle at Copeland Middle School, who she stated ‘has blood on his hands’.
According to the lawsuit, Dianne took her daughter to talk to Gonnella in one final attempt to get Mallory the help she so desperately needed. However, after a three-hour long meeting, Gonnella handed a poker chip to the middle school cheerleader and gymnast and instructed her to inscribe her initials on it. He then asked her ‘Are you all in’, which left Mallory ‘humiliated’.
The lawsuit claims Gonnella:
… lacked any suggestions to punish the offenders, but instead, placed the bulk of the responsibility on Mallory to rectify the situation.
His bright solution to nine months of bullying is a poker chip? And to have her write her initials and date it and to ask her if she’s all in? And hours later she goes home and dies?
The lawsuit goes on to state that it was Mallory’s father, Seth Grossman, who ‘discovered his daughter Mallory minutes after she attempted suicide’. He was also there ‘during her last moments of life’.
Dianne explains the meeting took place after Mallory had to suffer cruel text and Snapchat messages for a whole school year from other students. One of the messages she received came from a student who asked her ‘When are you going to kill yourself?’ — just weeks before she took her own life.
Another one of her tormentors, who is identified in the court papers as A.B., took a picture of Mallory eating by herself and added the caption ‘You have no friends’.
Court papers go on to describe how one student, who has not been identified, shared a similar picture with classmates on Snapchat with a message which read ‘U have no friends’ and ‘Poor Mal’.
Dianne urged school officials to step in ‘numerous’ times during the 2016-17 school term. However, the court papers say they refused as a ‘tone-deaf’ response would only make the situation worse.
Quite simply tragic.
If you’ve been affected by bullying, and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Bullying UK (Part of Family Lives) on 0808 800 2222. The helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.
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