An 11-year-old New Jersey girl who died days after an attempted suicide in a middle school bathroom had been relentlessly bullied and reported the harassment to school officials, her mother said.
The girl was found unresponsive in the bathroom stall at F. W. Holbein School in Mount Holly on Feb. 6 and died two days later, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Felicia LoAlbo-Melendez had been bullied for years, the girl’s mother, Elaina LoAlbo, said.
LoAlbo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, but told NBC Philadelphia that her daughter was regularly taunted by classmates.
“They called her a furry. She was not a furry. They called her gay. They called her straight. They called her bi. They called her all kinds of things.”
“My daughter was being tortured within the walls of that school,” she added.
Felicia and her mother had raised concerns about the bullying, but they were ignored, LoAlbo said.
The mother said she reported the bullying to Holbein authorities four times in person, and her daughter sent about a dozen emails to her school counselor, the latest one four days before her death, NBC Philadelphia reported.
“She’s telling her teachers. The teachers were witnesses to most of the bullying, physical altercations that were happening in classrooms and on school trips,” LoAlbo told NBC Philadelphia.
The girl’s death came two weeks after her father died from pancreatic cancer, LoAlbo said.
The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said in a March 29 statement that its investigation, “which included a review of the school’s surveillance cameras, determined that she was alone in the restroom when this tragic action occurred. The investigation further determined that no foul play was involved.”
Prosecutors said that they would grant the mother’s request to view the surveillance recording.
Robert Mungo, superintendent of the Mount Holly Township School District, said the school system cooperated with the prosecutor’s office in the investigation.
“Our district suffered a loss, which continues to weigh heavily on the school community. School counselors and administrators, with the support of the Burlington County School Crisis Response Team, have and will continue to increase outreach to students and staff and are prepared to aid them in processing this latest information as they continue to grieve,” he said.
Mungo did not comment directly on the bullying allegations, but said that the district is focused on “strengthening our support system for students, especially regarding their social and emotional well-being” and is committed to “making our schools safe and secure for every student.”
LoAlbo told NBC Philadelphia that she plans to pursue legal action.
“My next steps will be so that no other parent has to fight like I do and no other child ever has to suffer like my daughter has,” she said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources