High School

Bayville school board meeting: Students describe pain, fury in wake

BAYVILLE, New Jersey (WABC) – There was fury and a deep suffocating pain present at a school board meeting in Bayville, New Jersey, after a student died by suicide.

Thursday’s Central Regional School District Board of Education meeting was the first since 14-year-old Adriana Kuch took her own life.

Her father says Kuch was bullied and beaten at her high school. She took her own life after the attack.

Since then, other students and parents have come forward complaining about the bullying at the same school.

What victims shared Thursday night was heartbreaking.

“We’re scared to walk in the hallways of Central,” ninth grader Emma Smith said. “We’re terrified we’re going to get picked on and bullied and jumped.”

Students, both current and former, described decades of bullying, and say school administrators either ignored them or were bullies themselves.

“I was bullied out of this school by not only students but teachers,” former student Sidney Mole said. “I had a teacher sit there and tell an entire group of kids I was sitting with at a table at class that I was going down a deep spiral into a pit of despair and nobody should be friends with me because if they were friends with me I would just drag them down with me.”

Ahead of the board meeting, the acting superintendent laid out what changes are being implemented.

“Prospective initiatives include organizing a steering committee, including parents, community leaders to evaluate and update our approach to bullying and other issues,” said Dr. Douglas Corbett, Acting Superintendent of Central Regional School District.

Dr. Corbett says he’s laying out where they are now and the way forward after the district’s response to a filmed attack on Kuch sparked outrage.

Parents demanded change from school administrators after the teen took her own life.

The freshman was hit in the face with a full 20-ounce water bottle three times. On the video, she was punched, kicked and her hair was pulled, while classmates laughed and recorded the attack at school.

The superintendent resigned amid the fallout.

Ocean County prosecutors have charged four other girls for the attack on the teen at the high school in Bayville.

One girl is charged with aggravated assault, two others are charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and the fourth is charged with harassment.

The acting superintendent says there will be new measures put in place, so this doesn’t happen again.

“Retaining an outside party to examine our policies and our response to crisis,” Dr. Corbett said. “Reviewing our districts policies, cellphone policies specific scheduling, Student Assembly to discuss volume, social media risks and related contemporary issues. Establish a toll-free hotline, operated by an outside party for students to call anonymously if they wish if they feel threatened, physically, or online.”

Meanwhile, there have been protests outside of school by parents and students, saying this has happened before, and must stop.

When asked if there was a culture of violence at the high school, Corbett said he disagrees.

“I disagree with that,” Dr. Corbett said. “That has not been my experience at all.”

The acting superintendent, citing a legal matter, also wouldn’t talk about Kuch’s case. He wouldn’t say whether or not police were called. He says he has not been in touch with her family.

If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text the new three-digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org.

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