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New Jersey Parents To Sue School District Following 12-Year-Old Daughter's Suicide

ROSELAND, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The family of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl who killed herself said it plans to sue her school district for not stepping in to address the problem of cyberbullying.

An attorney for the family of Mallory Rose Grossman said Tuesday that he's filing a notice of intent to sue the Rockaway Township school district for negligence.

Mallory Grossman
Attorney Bruce Nagel handed out this photo of Mallory Grossman as he announced the family would be suing her school district after the 12-year-old's suicide. (credit: Handout)

The sixth grader took her own life in June after what her family said was months of bullying by several of her classmates.

Attorney Bruce Nagel said since October, Mallory was the target of vile and malicious cyberbullying. Her parents pleaded with school officials but "nothing was done.''

"There were texts, there was Snapchat, there was Instagram, for months she was told she's a loser, she had no friends and finally she was even told, 'Why don't you kill yourself?'" Nagel said. "For months her parents plead, plead with the administrators, 'Do something about this, please stop this.'" 

Her parents told CBS2's Hazel Sanchez they asked Copeland Middle School and the Rockaway Township school district on numerous occasions to file a harassment, intimidation and bullying report for their daughter, yet they claim that was never done.

"There was a pattern, a regular history pattern of the school dismissing my concerns," her mother, Diane Grossman, said. "To a child who's 12, constant dirty looks in school, it does change the make up of who you are and I think that's where the school's responsibility personally lies."

Nagel said the school "failed miserably" and were "grossly negligent."

The school is required by New Jersey law to file a bullying report, Sanchez reported.

CBS2 reached out to the school district, but administrators would not comment. 

Mallory was a gymnast, cheerleader and a good student. Her family said she was well-liked and social. Her mother believes the bullying was done out of spite.

"I think that she kind of represented what they couldn't be and so therefore she kind of had a target on her back, and it really was about the humiliation and the intimidation," Grossman said.

In addition to the lawsuit against the school district, the parents are now considering taking legal action against the students involved and their parents.

Grossman said the night before her daughter took her own life, she had spoken to one of the parents.

"I can tell you that the mother dismissed it, said it was just a big joke and that I really shouldn't worry about it," she said. "Even after I asked her daughter to please stop texting Mallory, three minutes later a text message -- a series of text messages -- came through from that child."

During a press conference Tuesday, Nagel held up a cellphone and cautioned, "This small device can be a lethal weapon in the hands of the wrong child."

The Grossmans hope schools will now pay attention to not only a student's academics but also their emotional well being, perhaps preventing another painful loss.

The family established a foundation called Mallory's Army to educate and bring light to bullying across the country and prevent it.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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