In wake of child’s suicide, schools chief tries to reassure community

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Families upset with Triad School District response to child's suicide

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

UPDATE @ 8:30 p.m. (Oct. 25): Triad Local Schools Superintendent Chris Piper said he will meet with every parent and community member who attended Monday night's school board meeting, where frustrations were expressed about the district's response to the suicide of an 11-year-old last week.

Piper, in an interview Tuesday afternoon, said the district follows a comprehensive bullying policy that aims to ensure students are educated in a safe environment.

“Understandably everyone is upset,” Piper said.

“We are upset and parents are upset and I fully understand there is a need to assign blame and that is a normal human reaction, I get that. In our middle school, there is a concerted effort to educate the kids to change negative behaviors and (for staff) to deal with situations,” he said.

The district makes inclusion an ongoing conversation, Piper said, and district officials talk about the right way to act when dealing with others.

He noted that teachers and principals also are told to respond immediately to any accusations of bullying in the schools.

“I have the utmost confidence in our teachers and principals to address issues that are brought to their attention,” Piper said.

EARLIER REPORT (Oct. 24)

Families in the Triad Local School District and community members as well say they are upset about how district officials are responding to reports of bullying in the aftermath of an 11-year-old girl’s suicide a week ago.

The superintendent declined an on-camera interview with News Center 7’s Natalie Jovonovich tonight and kept our camera out a public school board meeting where people came out to ask why district officials did nothing in light of reports that the girl had been the target of bullying.

She was buried Monday in North Lewisburg. She was remembered at a special event Saturday night at Mechanicsburg High School.

Her friends and family members said she was being bullied even as she was receiving chemotherapy.

The superintendent said the district sent a letter to families. But families and parents said the letter addressed mental health and not bullying.

The girl’s stepfather was at the meeting, as was a father whose daughter was the girl’s best friend.

“My daughter’s taking it very hard, I mean they were very close, they both helped each other develop and grow,” Russell Penhorwood said. He said both girls struggled with social anxiety and had to deal with the same group of bullies.

School leaders told Jovonovich they would find a time to meet with parents.