The parents of a girl who died by suicide after being bullied won a $9.1 million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit against a New Jersey school district.
Diane and Seth Grossman sued Rockaway Township School District in 2018, claiming officials at Copeland Middle School didn’t do enough to prevent their daughter’s death, according to CNN.
According to the lawsuit, their 12-year-old daughter Mallory Grossman took her life in June 2017 after being bullied in school and cyberbullied by classmates for months. The Grossmans claimed they had several meetings with school officials, including on the day she took her life, but those officials never acted against the alleged bullies, according to Good Morning America.
The Grossmans also alleged school officials advised them not to file a formal complaint, despite classmates allegedly kicking at Mallory’s desk and asking when she was going to kill herself.
“We used to say, ‘Go jump in the lake.’ That was a funny thing to say. Now our kids are saying, ‘Go kill yourself,'” Dianne Grossman said, according to GMA. “We’ve got to recognize that that type of language has to be intolerable.”
Following her daughter’s death, Diana Grossman made it her mission to educate students on the effect their actions could have.
“From the minute that Mallory passed away, we hit the ground running and we started a nonprofit. I travel to schools. I tell Mallory’s story,” Dianne Grossman said. “If the schools don’t get it, then maybe the parents and the kids will.”
The Grossmans’ nonprofit to support bullying prevention is called Mallory’s Army Foundation in their daughter’s honor.
Diana Grossman remembers her daughter as a gymnast, cheerleader and lover of the outdoors.
“She was a quiet child,” she said. “She was sensitive.”
In a written statement, the Grossmans said they were “satisfied with the settlement,” and “ready to put this part behind us & move forward, continuing to lend our voice to the epidemic that is stealing our children’s future.”
The $9.1 million settlement was the largest ever paid in a bullying case in the United States, according to The Washington Post.
In January 2022, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure called “Mallory’s Law” requiring school districts to “include specific consequences for a student who commits an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying.”
One out of every five students reports being bullied, according to National Bullying Prevention Center.