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After teen’s suicide, another allegation of ignored bullying and assault resurfaces at the same high school

<i>Courtesy Michael Kuch</i><br/>
Courtesy Michael Kuch
Courtesy Michael Kuch

By Celina Tebor and Sabrina Souza, CNN

More than a year before a 14-year-old student took her own life after a TikTok video showed she was attacked by four other teenagers, another student at the same high school was physically assaulted after reporting threats being made against her to the school, a lawsuit alleges.

14-year-old Adriana Kuch was found dead in her home in Bayville, New Jersey, earlier this month, her father told CNN. A video recording of an attack two days before her death shows the freshman student being hit in the face with a water bottle several times at Central Regional High School.

A lawsuit from October alleges a different 14-year-old student was physically assaulted by students at the same high school, after she received threats in December 2021 that they were going to “jump her” and physically assault her.

In January 2022, the student, Olivia O’Dea, was physically assaulted by two teenagers, one of whom had allegedly sent Olivia threatening text messages, the lawsuit claims. The assault was allegedly filmed by one of the teenagers who had been threatening Olivia, and who later posted it on a social media platform, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit does not include Olivia’s full name, but her mother confirmed to CNN that her daughter is the lead plaintiff in the case.

Olivia says she first reported the threats to a teacher, who referred her to a guidance counselor, but that counselor was not available. The student then met with the school’s principal and vice principal — an anti-bullying specialist, according to the state school directory — and reported the threats of violence made against her before she was assaulted, according to the lawsuit. But neither the school district nor the administrators that Olivia spoke with “performed a proper investigation or took appropriate action to address the threatening behavior,” claims the lawsuit, filed in the Ocean County Superior Court.

“The school basically just dismissed them as some conflict. They didn’t offer any protection for the client and didn’t call the police,” the attorney representing the O’Dea family, Jonathan Ettman, told CNN.

The Central Regional School District, the high school’s principal and vice principal are listed as defendants in the lawsuit. CNN has reached out to them and the attorney representing them for comment.

A lawyer representing the Central Regional School District, Central Regional Board of Education, the principal and vice principal filed an answer to the lawsuit on February 10 denying the accusations. The plaintiffs are now beginning to conduct discovery, Ettman said.

The girl’s mother, Racheal O’Dea, told CNN that her daughter was hit in the back of the head, neck, and back approximately 30 times and suffered a significant concussion. She underwent counseling for PTSD, six months of physical therapy, and saw multiple doctors, her mom said.

Now, the daughter goes to a school out of the district, the mother said.

Adriana’s death substantiates what the October lawsuit alleges, Ettman said, “which is that there is a clear lack of leadership in the school district. It starts at the top.”

Triantafillos Parlapanides, the former superintendent at Central Regional School District and Seaside Heights, resigned from his post on Saturday, effective immediately, the district said in a statement on its website about the district’s response to allegations of bullying.

“The District has contacted the [state] Department of Education and will undergo an independent assessment of the District’s anti-bullying policies and ensure every necessary safeguard is in place to protect our students and staff,” the statement says.

Parlapanides “demonstrated himself to be incapable of properly leading the school through situations like this,” Ettman said. “And it trickles down. The level of incompetence we’ve seen in our case and now with Adriana, it speaks for itself.”

Parlapanides is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. CNN has attempted to reach out to him for comment.

Adriana was walking with her boyfriend in the school hallway when she was allegedly attacked. The assault was recorded on video and posted on social media platforms that same day. A barrage of hateful comments and online bullying followed that Michael Kuch said drove his daughter to take her own life.

The video, obtained and reviewed by CNN, shows the freshman student being hit in the face with a water bottle several times. The footage shows Adriana was punched, kicked and her hair was pulled. Kuch says his daughter suffered bruising and blacked out for a short time as a result of the attack.

One of the teenagers allegedly involved in the attack is charged with aggravated assault, two are facing charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and a fourth is charged with harassment, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said in a statement to CNN on Friday. Billhimer did not identify the students but noted prosecutors were “precluded from releasing certain information due to the persons involved being juveniles.”

Olivia’s mother offered condolences to Adriana’s family.

“It’s devastating those parents are living every parent’s worst nightmare,” O’Dea said. “This could’ve been prevented.”

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Emma Tucker and Nicki Brown contributed to this report.

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