A high school student from the Bronx who leapt to her death had been bullied continuously for months and sexually assaulted on school grounds the day she died, alleges a lawsuit by her parents.
The body of ninth-grader Mya Vizcarrondo-Rios, 16, was discovered after she jumped from the rooftop of her 34-story apartment building during school hours on Feb. 28, 2018.
She was still wearing her backpack when her body was discovered on the sidewalk just after 2 p.m local time, reported the New York Daily News.
Bronx high school student killed herself after bullies tormented her and school officials turned their backs: lawsuit https://t.co/p9Te5MJEdi
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 29, 2019
In the lawsuit filed against the city, the Education Department, school administrators, and one of the alleged bullies, the teen’s parents said she took her own life after being subjected to five months of bullying at Harry S. Truman High School.
Since she enrolled in September 2017, their daughter was allegedly body shamed, physically abused, and forced by two boys to perform oral sex at school, then teased about it.
Mya had allegedly reported the bullying to counselors, but her parents claim in their lawsuit that her complaints were not handled properly, and they are furious school administrators failed to inform them of her concerns, reported the New York Daily News.
The morning before Mya passed away, her father, Heriberto Rios, said she had seemed excited before going to school. He later found out she had been forced to perform the sex act at the back of an unsupervised auditorium at the school, where students had earlier given a performance.
The lawsuit alleges the principal of Harry S. Truman High School, Keri Alfano, and a guidance counselor, had been aware of the malicious bullying, but did nothing about her absence the day she took her own life.
— New York Post (@nypost) May 28, 2019
While Mya never told her parents about her mistreatment, she admitted to her father she was having difficulty in some of her classes.
“I asked what was going on. She said she was having trouble, but she didn’t tell me she was being bullied,” Rios told the New York Daily News.
“She didn’t tell me about this. I found out after she passed. The school never told me about the cutting (classes).”
Before the bullying, Mya had near perfect attendance, reported the New York Daily News.
Parents sue NYC after teen ‘bullied into sex acts with boys’ jumped off building https://t.co/LxBSdJbWhW
— Tamara Walker (@nyprdiva) May 29, 2019
After her body was found, Mya was rushed immediately Jacobi Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
“She was an honor roll student,” her father said. “She had so many plans. She wanted to go to college.”
While Rios and Mya’s mother, Nelly Vizcarrondo, had previously been told about their daughter’s absences, they were never made aware of the torment she endured throughout the five months of bullying.
The lawsuit alleges Mya was sent back to class when she told the counselor about the bullying, and that a promised investigation never took place.
Girl, 16, who was ‘relentlessly bullied for months’ jumped to her death ‘hours after she was sexually assaulted at school and officials ignored her cries for help’, parents’ lawsuit claims https://t.co/VRUQOmzsPJ
— Dolly Loretta Russo (@dolly19631966) May 29, 2019
Now, her parents are hitting out against the way Mya’s situation was handled. “(Mya) was ignored and simply sent back to class without any intervention by the school,” the lawsuit said.
Mya’s friend had also alerted the counselor about the problems she was facing the day before she died, the lawsuit alleges. The counselor then reportedly signed a review card saying she would ask her parents to be wary of signs of emotional distress—but this allegedly never happened.
A copy of the lawsuit obtained by the New York Post alleges, “The employees of Harry S. Truman had actual notice of the intimidation but failed to intervene.”
“The guidance counselor saw and willfully ignored the signs that M.A. V-R was suffering severe emotional pain and depression as a result of the bullying she was receiving at school,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, the guidance counselor was fired and the single-named bully in the lawsuit was transferred out of the school.
“This was a tragic loss, and students deserve safe and supportive school environments,” Education Department spokesman Doug Cohen said in a statement.
“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.”