A New Jersey superintendent who sparked outrage with his comments about a 14-year-old student’s suicide has resigned, the school district announced Saturday.
Central Regional School District superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides stepped down less than two weeks after freshman Adriana Kuch took her own life following a vicious episode of bullying captured on video.
“The Central Regional family continues to mourn the loss of one of our children,” the school district said in a statement announcing the school board had accepted Parlapanides’ resignation Saturday.
Kuch’s death rocked the entire community in Berkeley Township after she was found dead at her Bayville home on Feb. 3. Just two days earlier, video was circulated among students at Central Regional High School that showed Kuch being brutally attacked by a group of students as she walked down the hallway, while other students cheered off camera.
The teenager’s father, Michael Kuch, blasted the school for failing to protect his daughter. Hundreds of students sided with him and staged a walkout earlier this week to call attention to what they described as rampant, unchecked bullying.
“Adriana took her own life because nobody at the school was able to help or care or step in,” sophomore Roman Valez told NBC New York at the demonstration.
The school did not call police after Kuch’s assault—a decision Parlapanides insisted was in line with school policy.
“My daughter actually blacks out and they don’t call an ambulance, they take her to the nurse’s office,” a heartbroken Michael Kuch told ABC 7.
The four girls allegedly involved in the attack have since been charged, but Kuch’s family says the school dragged their feet in taking any kind of action against her assailants.
“It’s devastating how they were allowed to continue on,” Adriana’s brother, Jacob, told NewsNation this week, questioning why it took more than a week for the school to suspend her alleged attackers.
In the midst of backlash over the school’s handling of the incident, Parlapanides publicly tried to shift blame to Kuch’s familly—blaming her suicide on an “affair” he said her father had had years earlier that he claimed led her mother to kill herself, and suggesting the 14-year-old had a drug problem.
“Her grades and choices declined in 7th and 8th grade. We offered her drug rehab and mental services on five occasions but the father refused every time,” Parlapanides said in comments to The Daily Mail.
“He’s pretty much blaming her,” Kuch said of Parlapanides’ comments to The New York Post. “My daughter was attacked in your school and you did nothing. And now you want to blame this on everyone else except yourself because you failed and you suck at your job. … You should probably resign and maybe even become a greeter at Walmart.”
Following the superintendent’s resignation on Saturday, Kuch shared a copy of the school district’s announcement on Facebook and kept his reaction brief: “‘I will let this speak for itself.”
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. You can also text or dial 988.