Parents accuse school of inaction after bullied 12-year-old girl killed herself

Rebelander Basilan
Jun 24, 2018
11:20 P.M.
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Mallory Grossman's parents filed wrongful death suit against the school district for not meddling when their daughter was being bullied by her classmates.


Mallory, 12, who attended Copeland Middle School, took her own life in the family’s Rockaway home on June 14, 2017.

Her parents, Dianne and Seth Grossman, filed a wrongful death suit against the principal, Rockaway Township, its Board of Education, and several other staffs in Morris County Superior Court.

Dianne told The Post that she complained to the school for months about the bullying, but they did nothing to help Mallory.

“The story isn’t about Mallory. It’s about everybody’s Mallory. It’s about everybody’s niece and their nephew and their grandchildren,’’ Dianne said.


She added that the school's principal, Alfonso Gonnella, has "blood on his hands."

According to the suit they filed, along with Mallory, Dianne went to the school to talk with Gonnella, attempting to get help for her daughter before she committed suicide.

Gonnella then gave the preteen cheerleader and gymnast a poker chip during the meeting. After instructing the girl to write her initials on the token, the principal asked her: "Are you all in?"

The suit said that Mallory was "humiliated" and that Gonnella “lacked any suggestions to punish the offenders, but instead, placed the bulk of the responsibility on Mallory to rectify the situation."


Dianne said: “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?”

Seth, Mallory's father, was with his daughter during the last day of her life. He was also the one who found Mallory minutes after she attempted to commit suicide.

Dianne said that after the meeting with the principal, the bullies continued to send cruel texts and Snapchat messages to her daughter.

Just weeks before the suicide, one of the students asked Mallory: “When are you going to kill yourself?’’


Another student also took a photo of Mallory then texted it to her with the caption “You have no friends."

The suit claimed that the school officials advised Mallory's parents not to file a formal complaint under New Jersey’s Harassment Intimidation and Anti-Bullying policy.

Bruce Nagel, the family's lawyer, said: “We are hopeful that the filing of this lawsuit will bring national awareness to the epidemic of cyber-bullying and that we do not have to attend any more funerals of students who have been the victims.’’

Mallory's tragic death is “a perpetual sadness you have to learn to live with," Dianne said.

According to The Post, the principal didn't return calls or emails from them. The Rockaway Township Board of Education didn't return a request for comment as well.

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