Parents of a late bullied Bronx teen have filed a lawsuit alleging the school failed to listen to her pleas of torment, and that contributed to her suicide in February 2018.
Ninth-grader Mya Vizcarrondo-Rios jumped 34 stories from her apartment to her death early last year. The death came after she was sexually assaulted that day following months of bullying. The honor roll student suffered through at least five months of torment leading up to being forced to perform oral sex in the school gym, according to the lawsuit obtained by the New York Daily News.
The suit, which lists the city of the Bronx, the Education Department, and school administrators as defendants, claims Mya was led to Harry S. Truman High School’s unsupervised gym on Feb. 28, 2018. It was there that she was made to perform oral sex on two boys, the filing alleges, and she was teased thereafter. Additionally, the suit says Mya endured months of bullying where she was physically assaulted, body shamed, called names and had her hair pulled.
The filing states the incidents were reported multiple times to school administrators. However, according to the paperwork, Principal Keri Alfano and a guidance counselor were knowledgeable about the bullying yet did not inform her parents about it. The counselor, who is not named, wrote a note to inform her parents that they should look out for signs of emotional distress, but no such warning came. This, the filing states, despite the parents meeting with the counselor concerning Mya’s mounting absences. Despite Mya reporting her bullying to school officials, the filing states, she was told to go back to class. No one informed her parents of the attacks and neither did Mya, her father, Heriberto Rios, told NYDN.
“I asked what was going on,” Rios said. “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 was home when police showed up to his home at around 2 p.m. and said they’d found his daughter’s body — her backpack still on. Mya was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center and later pronounced dead.
“The tragic circumstances surrounding my client’s death could have been prevented,” the family’s attorney, John Scola, told the paper. “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 Education Department has dedicated $8 million toward initiatives to take aim at bullying.
“We recognize the deep impact bullying can have, and schools are required to immediately investigate and address any allegation,” said spokesman Doug Cohen. “We’ll continue to invest in anti-bullying and safe schools initiatives.”