Her Principal Gave Her a Poker Chip. Hours Later, She Was Dead

Mallory Grossman's parents sue, say school's failures led to bullied 12-year-old taking her life
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2018 9:36 AM CDT
Updated Jun 24, 2018 2:00 PM CDT
Suit: Tween Who Killed Herself Was Forced to Hug Harassers
Mallory Grossman, who died at the age of 12.   (YouTube)

"It changes your DNA," Dianne Grossman told reporters Tuesday. The New Jersey mother was speaking on the suicide of her 12-year-old daughter, Mallory, who died last June after what her parents say was a relentless bullying campaign by classmates at Copeland Middle School. Now, per the Star-Ledger, Grossman and her husband are suing the Rockaway Township Board of Education, the township, and individual school workers for not taking appropriate actions to combat the bullying despite their pleas. The Grossmans say four students tormented Mallory for months, even asking her how she planned to kill herself. Their complaint notes when help was sought for Mallory, school officials suggested she take her lunch period in the guidance office instead of the cafeteria. It also says Mallory was forced to hug it out with her harassers.

Grossman tells the New York Post that school principal Alfonso Gonnella personally has "blood on his hands." She says he "humiliated" Mallory on the last day of her life by putting the onus on her to combat the bullying, giving her a poker chip and asking, "Are you all in?" Grossman says the four kids who bullied her daughter still haven't been disciplined. "We know that the poor behavior and poor decisions these kids make has not changed," she tells WABC. The Grossmans' complaint seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, but another reason is also driving the suit. "I really want schools to understand the gravity of what has happened," Grossman says. "Our family is forever changed because they chose not to put systems in place. ... I want other school systems to learn from this." The Grossmans have also started the Mallory's Army Foundation to help combat bullying. (More bullying stories.)

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