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Monday, June 3, 2019

Black Teen Commits Suicide After Being Bullied — Now the Parents are Suing the School!

Mya Vizcarrondo, Black teen who committed suicide

Bronx, NY — Mya Vizcarrondo-Rios, a 16-year old high school student at Harry S. Truman High School in New York, committed suicide by jumping off a roof after allegedly being bullied and forced to perform sexual acts by two boys at school. Her parents are now filing a lawsuit against the school, which they claimed ignored their daughter’s complaints and never informed them of the bullying which was happening for five months already.

On February 28, 2018, Mya’s body was found on the ground outside the 34-floor apartment building where she lived. Hours before that, Mya was reportedly forced to perform oral sex on two boys when they were left without supervision in the school auditorium. She was teased and bullied by other students afterwards.

Her father, Heriberto Rios, was in the house at that time she jumped but he thought she was still at school. He said he only learned about the bullying that her daughter was suffering when she died.

According to the lawsuit, Mya, who was in 9th grade, has been repeatedly bullied for at least five months by her classmates who made fun of her body, pulled her hair, and physically assaulted her.

The lawsuit also stated Mya told a guidance counselor and the school’s principal, Keri Alfano, about the bullying but she “was ignored and simply sent back to class without any intervention by the school.” The school didn’t also notified her parents about the bullying, the lawsuit said.

Mya’s parents did notice that she was starting to miss classes during that time. They were also called into a meeting with the counselor about her attendance, but not about the bullying. Rios remembered that when he asked his daughter about her absences, “she said she was having trouble, but she didn’t tell me she was being bullied. She didn’t tell me about this. I found out after she passed. The school never told me about the cutting [classes],” he told New York Daily News.

Rios couldn’t actually believe that since Mya had a perfect attendance record before. “She was an honor roll student. She had so many plans. She wanted to go to college,” he said.

Shortly after Mya’s death, the guidance counselor was fired and one of the bullies named in the lawsuit was transferred.

Now, Rios and Mya’s mother, Nelly Vizcarrondo, are filing a lawsuit against the city, the Education Department, and the school administrators. They believe her death could have been prevented if the school just took proper measures.

“The tragic circumstances surrounding my client’s death could have been prevented,” John Scola, the family’s lawyer, said. “We hope that this case will cause the Department of Education to reevaluate their policies and properly train their employees on issues related to bullying so that no student feels so hopeless they believe suicide is the answer. We hope that this case will prevent helpless students from taking their own lives in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Education said that the city recently alloted $8 million into initiatives that aims to prevent bullying, such as training and online resources.

“This was a tragic loss, and students deserve safe and supportive school environments,” the department spokesman, Doug Cohen, said. “We recognize the deep impact bullying can have, and schools are required to immediately investigate and address any allegation. We’ll continue to invest in anti-bullying and safe schools initiatives.”

A GoFundMe fundraiser to support Mya’s family for her funeral costs is still open. The campaign has already raised over $3,700 in donations.