By Emma Tucker and Nicki Brown, CNN
The superintendent of the New Jersey school district where a 14-year-old student took her own life days after a TikTok video showed she was attacked by four other teenagers has resigned, the district announced.
Four students at Central Regional High School in Berkeley Township, located in Ocean County, New Jersey, have been charged in connection with the attack, according to prosecutors. The incident has sparked outrage among students and parents who say it reflects a culture of bullying in the district.
Adriana Kuch, 14, was found dead in her home in Bayville, New Jersey on February 3, her father told CNN. Prosecutors say she was assaulted on February 1 at the high school. Kuch said he believes his daughter died late at night on February 2, shortly after she sent her last text message at 10:46 p.m.
Triantafillos Parlapanides, the superintendent at Central Regional School District and Seaside Heights, resigned from his post on Saturday, effective immediately, the district said in a statement on its website. His resignation came amid parents and students calling on the district to improve how it handles allegations of bullying.
“The Central Regional School District is evaluating all current and past allegations of bullying. The District has contacted the Department of Education and will undergo an independent assessment of the District’s anti-bullying policies and ensure every necessary safeguard is in place to protect our students and staff,” the district’s statement reads.
The school district did not elaborate on any further details regarding Parlapanides’s resignation. CNN has contacted Parlapanides for comment but did not hear back.
One of the teenagers allegedly involved in the attack is charged with aggravated assault, two are facing charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and a fourth is charged with harassment, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said in a statement to CNN on Friday. Billhimer did not identify the students but noted prosecutors were “precluded from releasing certain information due to the persons involved being juveniles.”
The attack on Adriana, who was walking with her boyfriend in the hallway at the time, was recorded on video and posted later that same day on social media platforms, including TikTok, which prompted a slew of hateful comments and online bullying that Kuch said drove his daughter to take her own life.
The video, obtained and reviewed by CNN, shows the freshman student being hit in the face with a water bottle several times. The footage shows Adriana was punched, kicked and her hair was pulled. Kuch says his daughter suffered bruising and blacked out for a short time as a result of the attack.
Kuch has accused the school district of mishandling the attack. He says police should have been notified immediately and that his daughter should have been taken to the hospital.
“I want this to stop happening to other kids,” Kuch said. “This isn’t just my daughter. A lot of kids are facing this at school.”
John Galifi, a father of two children at the high school, told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey that other children at the school have also dealt with serious bullying.
“We are always hearing stories as parents, and it’s usually overlooked by a lot of people,” Galfi told News 12.
Dozens of students at the school staged a walkout on Wednesday, joining Kuch in demanding that the district take stronger action to hold bullies accountable.
Parlapanides confirmed to CNN that Adriana was treated by the school nurse after the attack. The former superintendent also said the four girls allegedly involved in the attack were suspended immediately “starting that day” and claimed the school did “notify” police the day of the February 1 incident.
“We don’t always press charges which are based on each individual case,” Parlapanides said. “We always call and notify the police of all incidents. Adriana had several cuts and bruises.”
Kuch disputes the superintendent’s account and claims three of the girls involved were back at school the following day. He also claims the school did not file a police report with the Berkeley Township Police Department.
The department told CNN in a statement that “all information and releases about this case are being handled by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.”
CNN has contacted the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to confirm whether the girls returned to school after their suspensions and whether school officials filed a police report after the February 1 attack.
Father says he filed police report
On February 1, Adriana called her father and told him that she had been “jumped,” Kuch said. He says he rushed to the school and was informed by school officials that his daughter had been attacked but said he wasn’t given details about the incident, including that multiple girls were allegedly involved and that his daughter was hit with a water bottle.
After meeting with school officials, Kuch said he took Adriana to the police station and filed a report. He said before the school day was over, the video was already making the rounds on TikTok.
Adriana shared the video with her father shortly after it was posted, along with threatening messages she received online, he contended. Kuch said he immediately contacted the school and police and shared the footage and messages.
The following day, February 2, Adriana stayed home from school due to her injuries, her father said. The last time Kuch saw his daughter was around 10 p.m. that night on footage from one of the security cameras in the family’s house. The next morning, Adriana’s stepmother and Kuch found her dead in her room and called 911, Kuch said.
“You’re never supposed to see your kids like that,” Kuch said.
Adriana should be remembered as ‘fun-loving,’ family says
Bre Cullson, one of Adriana’s friends, told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey, “I never knew how far it was going, but I know her and one of the girls were going at it for a while and she was getting threatened.”
In a Facebook post on February 8, Kuch wrote, “I want the entire world to know what these animals did to my daughter. I will not sleep until their family has to watch them stand in front of a judge and plead guilty.”
Parlapanides informed parents and guardians of Adriana’s death in a letter on February 6, saying the district crisis team was “immediately activated to meet with students and staff during this difficult time.”
“Please know that you are never alone in this world and there is always support during bad times to help change things for the better,” the superintendent added.
The four minors accused in the attack and their guardians were served with charges and have been released “pending future court appearances,” according to Billhimer, the Ocean County prosecutor.
Billhimer said he spoke with protestors at the school on Wednesday and offered to meet with them to hear their concerns. He said he also met with Parlapanides Friday morning to “discuss ways to improve the district’s response to incidents within the school.”
“I also shared some suggestions regarding staff changes as well as programming and services to respond to the needs of the students,” Billhimer added.
Adriana’s sister-in-law, Jennifer Ferro, told CNN in an interview that the family does not want people to remember Adriana “as the girl who sadly passed away at the age of 14.”
“We want everyone to remember her as the fun-loving little girl we always loved being around,” Ferro said. “We don’t want people to remember her from how she died, more who she was as a person.”
Editor’s Note: If you are in the US and you or a loved one have contemplated suicide, call The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with a trained counselor.
For support outside of the US, a worldwide directory of resources and international hotlines is provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. You can also turn to Befrienders Worldwide.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.