We didn’t ignore bullying of 12-year-old who killed herself, Rockaway Twp. schools say
ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP — The local school district said Thursday that while it cannot respond to a lawsuit brought against it by the parents of Mallory Grossman — a 12-year-old who family members say took her own life in June — it wants to correct "misinformation" about the girl being bullied.
"The allegation that the Rockaway Township School District ignored the Grossman family and failed to address bullying in general, is categorically false," read a message posted on the district website and signed by "Rockaway Township Board of Education Members and Rockaway Township District Administration."
They also said the public has only heard one side of the story.
Dianne and Seth Grossman announced on Aug. 3 their intention to sue the Rockaway Township district, and went public with alleged details of the bullying against their daughter, Mallory, a cheerleader and gymnast.
Attorney Paul Nagel said the bullying went on for most of the 2016-2017 school year via Snapchat, Instagram and texting. He described the messages sent to Grossman as "vile and malicious," including one that asked Grossman, "Why don't you kill yourself?"
“We literally went up the line, starting with guidance counselors, and it fell on deaf ears,” Diane Grossman said at a press conference.
She said she was told by the principal the district would “investigate the matter and follow procedure,” but the bullying continued.
Mallory took her own life just before the start of summer vacation, family members have said. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office said her death remains under investigation and has never disclosed any details.
The district said in its statement that while it would like to put parents at ease about how it handles bullying, its legal counsel and the Prosecutor's Office and it not to discuss the Grossman's case specifically.
"The district and its legal counsel are confident the public will recognize and appreciate its thoughtful and purposeful actions. Further, our counsel believes the actions of others in this case will also be viewed quite differently from that which is presently portrayed," it wrote.
In an obituary, Mallory's family members described her as artistic, a lover of the outdoors and "wise beyond her years."
The Full Rockaway Township School District Statement:
Recent editorial comment accuses the Rockaway Township School District of failing to address bullying, and ignoring pleas for help from Mallory Grossman’s family. Local press also contends the school district has a duty to immediately reveal relevant facts.
The Rockaway Township School District would like nothing more than to respond. In our judgment, the public has heard only one side of the story and we recognize public comment could ease parental concerns.
Two reasons preclude The Rockaway Township School District from publicly discussing this matter. First, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office has from the outset of its investigation asked us not to discuss it. We must respect and honor that request. Next, the district’s legal counsel also directs us even now to refrain from public comment. We will comply with that directive as well.
The district however, is permitted to correct misinformation. The allegation that the Rockaway Township School District ignored the Grossman family and failed to address bullying in general, is categorically false.
As this case is formally adjudicated, the District and its legal counsel are confident the public will recognize and appreciate its thoughtful and purposeful actions. Further, our counsel believes the actions of others in this case will also be viewed quite differently from that which is presently portrayed.
Our new school year is here. The Rockaway Township School District continues its commitment to the safety and security of all of our students. We urge restraint with regard to public accusations and misinformation pertaining to this case, for none of it will ease tragic loss of life.
Rockaway Township Board of Education Members
Rockaway Township District Administration
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.