New Jersey

Superintendent Resigns Amid NJ District Fallout Over Handling of Hallway Attack, Student Death

Video posted to social media last week showed several students viciously attacking Adriana Kuch as she was walking with her boyfriend in a school hallway. Two days later, she took her own life in her home. News 4 has obtained the footage (below). WARNING: Some may find it disturbing

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What to Know

  • An NJ high school student's death by suicide last week has now led to charges against four students allegedly involved in a hallway attack caught on video that was posted on social media
  • The victim, 14-year-old Adriana Kuch, took her own life at her Bayville, New Jersey, home two days later, family and investigators say; they say Central Regional High School handled the situation poorly
  • The school district says it followed policy in not filing a police report over the attack, instead taking the girl to the nurse; her father says that's not good enough and is demanding justice

The superintendent of the New Jersey school district where a 14-year-old freshman died by suicide 48 hours after video of bullying surfaced online has resigned, a day after funeral services were held for teenager.

Adriana Kuch was found dead a week from Friday following a premeditated bullying incident in which four school mates allegedly ganged up to either attack the high schooler or record the incident, which was subsequently posted to social media.

All four girls involved in the attack on Kuch, who took her own life two days after the Feb. 1 incident at Central Regional High School in Berkeley Township, had already been suspended indefinitely before they were charged Friday in the hallway attack at the school.

Superintendent Dr. Triantafillos Parlapanides stepped down on Saturday, sources tell News 4, following a series of interviews late in the week that caught the attention of the school board. Parlapanides reportedly delivered an email response to a British newspaper in which he talked about Kuch's alleged behavior and possible drug use -- a move that prompted action from the board.

During an emergency zoom meeting Saturday to discuss superintendent's fate, Parlapanides, who was once a student, teacher and principal at the high school, submitted his resignation. While a board member confirmed his resignation that afternoon, the police chief of Seaside Heights, Tommy Boyd, came to the superintendent's defense, saying Parlapanides always put the kids first.

Video posted to social media last week showed several students viciously attacking Adriana Olivia Kuch as she was walking with her boyfriend in a school hallway. She's not the only bullying victim at the school. NBC New York's Brian Thompson reports.

"The Central Regional School District board of Education has accepted the resignation of Dr. Triantafillos Parlapanides," a message on the district website read. "The Central Regional School District is evaluating all current and past allegations of bullying."

Prior to his stepping down, Parlapanides had said the district's response to the death of Adriana Kuch was in line with policy, saying it's standard practice for the school to notify police.

"We've always notified the police but we don't always press the charges. It depends on the severity of the charges," Parlapanides said.

Parlapanides pinned the blame for much of the behavior seen on the video on an somewhat surprising target: pandemic schooling.

"They've seen things at home, domestic violence, things they shouldn't have been privy to, but unfortunately with COVID, they were," Parlapanides said.

Michael Kuch, the father of 14-year-old Adriana, says his daughter was assaulted by other students and two days later, she took her own life. NBC New York's Brian Thompson reports.

Prosecutors announced the charges against the students Friday afternoon, the same day that friends and family honored the memory of Kuch at a memorial service.

One student has been charged with aggravated assault, two were charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and the fourth person faces a harassment charge, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

All of those whom were charged are juveniles, and because of that, have not been identified. The prosecutor's office added that each of the four, along with their respective guardians, were served with a copy of the criminal complaint against them, and were released pending future court appointments.

Earlier in the day, the Ocean County prosecutor released a statement saying the office had discussed the matter with the district superintendent and talked about ways to improve district response to incidents. The office also suggested the district work on programming and services for the students.

The bullying case has drawn national headlines due to the tragic details involved, including the video of the horrifying attack and the controversy surrounding the school's response. The teen's father, Michael Kuch, previously said Ocean County prosecutors told him they planned to file criminal charges against at least three of the girls seen on video attacking his daughter.

Two days earlier, the hallway attack video was posted to social media. News 4 has obtained that footage (below). WARNING: Note that some viewers may find its contents disturbing.

News 4 obtained the Central Regional High School fight video. WARNING: Some may find this disturbing to watch.

The footage itself lasts less than a minute. It shows Kuch walking down the hallway with her boyfriend as the kids recording the moment approach them going in the opposite direction. Suddenly, there's a quick movement from someone near the phone-holder and pink liquid sprays out of a cup, all over Kuch. She is then set upon by at least two people, the video shows, slammed into school lockers and surrounded by what is now a trio of attackers.

She crumples on the floor. The three classmates, backpacks swinging, fall over themselves a bit near the lockers, almost stepping on Kuch as she crawls around on the floor, trying to collect herself. Then they start shoving her, dragging her almost along the ground on her knees, raking her against the red school lockers, the white soles of her shoes the only part of her visible underneath her attackers at various points. Then one girl grabs her by the hair.

The violent attack continues for another few seconds before two adults run into the video frame and pull the attackers off Kuch. She is seen writhing on the ground, her hands holding either side of her head as a man stands over her. He then helps the bruised and bloodied girl up. The footage wraps.

While authorities have not publicly connected the attack video post to Kuch's death, her father Michael has. He says he believes bullying drove his daughter to suicide and eviscerated the school for not calling the cops after the attack, despite the fact he says Adriana blacked out. Taking her to the school nurse alone was insufficient, he says.

When asked if the district was possibly rethinking whether or not they press charges, or whether suspensions were appropriate, Parlapanides said "we are looking at that, we are looking at all of that."

The girl's father says if the district believes their actions satisfied policy, then the policy is woefully insufficient. He did file a police report.

Michael Kuch unleashed his own social media messaging, saying he took Adriana Kuch to the cops right after the incident. Had the school launched an investigation at that point, he says, he believes the videos could have been discovered and taken down earlier, potentially preserving his daughter the mortification he says cost her life.

Now he wants the footage seen -- widely.

"I want the entire world to know what these animals did to my daughter," Michael Kuch said.

Now, new videos are surfacing of other bullying incidents at the high school. A video from 2022 shows a girl, with her arm in a sling because of a shoulder injury during a wrestling match, getting attacked. That student's mother told NBC New York she had to send her daughter to an out-of-district school after her attackers were suspended for just 10 days.

In another attack from the same year, the victim again had to be transferred out afterward. Jonathan Ettman, the lawyer for the family suing the school, said that video of the incident "immediately [went] up on social media to intimidate and harass the victim, in this case my client."

Ettman suggested a cellphone ban be instituted.

"Perhaps the solution is we have to restrict these kids from having their cellphones while in school, while they should be learning," Ettman told NBC New York.

The school and district continue to face mounting fallout from the attack, in particular how the aftermath (including the video of the incident being posted online, punishment for those involved, and Kuch's suicide) was handled.

Friday was another day of student protests at the school, as students expressed their outrage at the administration over Kuch's case by walking out of classrooms en masse. The student protests started Wednesday, when hundreds of students walked out of class after the district sent a letter out in which they acknowledged the growing frustration.

"Since the tragic passing of our student this past Friday, we fully understand that students, staff and the community are hurting for the loss of such a young lady with a bright future," the letter begins.

It goes on to reference a moment of silence, and the school's plan to let the students rally in a peaceful, organized manner. Read the letter below:

"Unfortunately, however, the student activity began to interfere with the learning process as the day continued," the letter read. Dismissal was early and a bit chaotic that day, and the district said it would not permit further rallies without prior administrative approval, citing its concern for the "health, safety and well-being for all students."

But students on Friday again walked out of class, voicing their displeasure with the school's response to the tragedy.

"They didn't send out a letter until two days after she died, they tried to hide it. They didn't want anyone talking about it," said senior Destiney Gilliland.

The district first sent out a letter to parents on Monday, the first school day after Adriana took her life. It more or less informed the school community of Kuch's passing, offered heartfelt condolences to her family and friends and advised people of crisis counseling and other resources.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741 anytime.

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