Student death prompts walkout at Central Regional HS, claims of widespread bullying

BERKELEY — About 40 students at Central Regional High School staged a walkout to protest what they called a pattern of bullying in the district and a lack of effort to address it.

It comes at an emotional moment for the district. A 14-year-old student died by suicide in her home last week, her father confirmed to the Asbury Park Press. Two days before, in a video reviewed by the Press, the 14-year-old can be seen being attacked by at least one other student inside the high school. Three students were suspended, the district confirmed.

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Her father said he believes her death was in part due to bullying his child endured from other students online in the 36 hours after she was attacked.

“She took her life because she was so unbelievably embarrassed and they kept coming to her and attacking her (online),” the father of nine said about his youngest daughter. “On TikTok, Snapchat and sending her direct messages.”

The Asbury Park Press does not name juveniles who die by suicide. It is not naming the father as a result.

Students of Central Regional High School protest along Forest Hills Parkway. The students are upset with inaction by the district regarding bullying within the school system which they feel helped lead to the recent death of a fellow student.  Berkeley Township, NJWednesday, February 8, 2023
Students of Central Regional High School protest along Forest Hills Parkway. The students are upset with inaction by the district regarding bullying within the school system which they feel helped lead to the recent death of a fellow student. Berkeley Township, NJWednesday, February 8, 2023

If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, call or text 988 for help, 24 hours a day. 

At Central Regional High School Wednesday morning, protesting students marched to the front of the school, some holding signs that read "Your silence our voice” and “I’ve fallen victim to bullying.” The crowd swelled as the morning wore on.

“We’re here to protest the whole situation, said Grace Onello, an 18-year-old senior at the school. "No one did anything for her. And suspensions will not do anything to stop it.”

The students told a Press reporter bullying is a significant issue at the school and believe school officials have not done enough to remedy it.

The father said the issues began on Wednesday, Feb. 2 when his daughter and her boyfriend were walking in the school’s hallway and were attacked. The attack was captured on video that was later spread among students and residents on social media.

A copy of a 46-second video, reviewed by the Press, shows at least one student grabbing the 14-year-old, striking her with what appears to be a water bottle and knocking her to the ground. A struggle ensues and the same student appears to strike the 14-year-old several more times while her boyfriend attempts to separate them.

The father confirmed his daughter was the person initially attacked in the video.

Two people, appearing to be adults, break up the fight after about 15 seconds. Other students were present during the melee and at least one was filming on their phone.

Central Regional Schools Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides confirmed the attack occurred and said he had seen the video. He said three students allegedly involved were suspended for “an extended period of time.”

“There is no place for that in school, it is ridiculous,” the superintendent said about the attack. “You are in school for one reason only and that is to learn. We take that very seriously, we have nothing to hide, we are here for the kids, we are here for the parents, the school can’t do it alone.”

The father said he took his daughter to Berkeley Township police to file a report on the incident. Police did not respond to requests for information Tuesday.

The father also said his daughter showed him videos of people taunting her and threatening her online after the attack.

“After we come home she comes to me and says, ‘Dad they posted a video of what happened and they are threatening me’ and she shows me all of the videos,” he said. “I contacted the school and told them and showed them the video."

She was found dead on Friday, Feb. 4.

“My emotions are sadness and anger,” said the father, adding he is considering legal action. “I blame the girls and the school and the cops. I want everyone to know what happened to her, I want justice, as much attention so they can’t ignore it.”

The school district issued a note to parents on Feb. 5, which offered “great sadness” at the “tragic passing” of a district student, but did not name her.

It also provided information on available counseling and crisis professionals, stating “please know that you are never alone in the world and there is always support during bad times to help change things for the better.”


The following is a list of free resources available to New Jersey residents experiencing thoughts of suicidality or mental health crisis.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: U.S. Residents can now call or text 988 to connect with suicide prevention specialists or access mental health resource information.

NJ Suicide Prevention Hopeline: Specialists are available for confidential telephone counseling and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-855-654-6735

NJ Mental Health Cares: NJ Mental Health Cares is New Jersey's behavioral health information and referral service. Behavioral care specialists are available from 8:00am to 8:00pm, Monday through Friday.  866-202-HELP.

Joe Strupp is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience who covers education and several local communities for and the Asbury Park Press. He is also the author of three books, including Killing Journalism on the state of the news media, and an adjunct media professor at Rutgers University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Reach him at and at 732-413-3840. Follow him on Twitter at @joestrupp

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Central Regional High School students protest bullying, walk out