The parents of a Bronx high schooler who was bullied into performing sex acts on two boys at school then went home the same day and jumped off a roof are suing the city and Department of Education.
According to a lawsuit filed in the Bronx Supreme Court, Mya Vizcarrondo-Rios, 16, was tormented by bullies at school for five months before she was sexually assaulted on the day of her death. In the suit, her parents alleged school administrators at Harry S. Truman High School repeatedly ignored the ninth-grader’s complaints and never informed them about the harassment, reported the New York Daily News.
On Feb. 28, 2018, police found Mya’s body on the ground outside of the 34-floor apartment building where she lived.
Her father, Heriberto Rios, was home when she jumped, but assumed she was still at school.
Rios later learned in the moments before she died by suicide that Mya was sexually assaulted while she and other students were left unsupervised in the auditorium for a performance. Mya was forced to perform oral sex on two boys and afterward, she was teased by other students, the lawsuit states.
Before the assault, Rios said his daughter was repeatedly bullied for at least five months by classmates who made fun of her body, pulled her hair and physically assaulted her.
The lawsuit also alleges when Mya told a guidance counselor and the school’s principal, Keri Alfano, about the bullying, they sent her back to class without notifying her parents about the reports.
“[Mya] was ignored and simply sent back to class without any intervention by the school,” the lawsuit said.
When she was bullied, Mya started missing class out of fear. When Rios confronted his daughter about the absences, she said she was having trouble in a few classes.
“I asked what was going on,” Rios told the Daily News. “She said she was having trouble, but she didn’t tell me she was being bullied. She didn’t tell me about this. I found out after she passed. The school never told me about the cutting [classes].”
Rios found this difficult to believe since Mya previously had perfect attendance.
“She was an honor roll student,” Rios told the Daily News. “She had so many plans. She wanted to go to college.”
Although Mya’s parents were called into a meeting with her counselor about her attendance, they were never notified about the bullying.
Now Rios and Mya’s mother, Nelly Vizcarrondo, are suing the city, the Education Department and school administrators.
Shortly after Mya’s death, one of the bully’s named in the lawsuit was transferred, and the guidance counselor named in the suit was fired, the Daily News reports.
Mya’s parents and their attorney believe her death could have been prevented if the school took more measure.
“The tragic circumstances surrounding my client’s death could have been prevented," John Scola, the family’s lawyer, told the Daily News.
"We hope that this case will cause the Department of Education to reevaluate their policies and properly train their employees on issues related to bullying so that no student feels so hopeless they believe suicide is the answer. We hope that this case will prevent helpless students from taking their own lives in the future.”
Education Department officials told the Daily News the city recently put $8 million into initiatives targeting bullying, including training and online resources.
“This was a tragic loss, and students deserve safe and supportive school environments," department spokesman Doug Cohen told the news outlet. "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.”
A GoFundMe for Mya's funeral services have been started for Mya's family.